The Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs may not be a graded stakes race, but it’s proved to be a useful guide to the Kentucky Derby preps.
Several horses that ran prominently in the past four years would qualify for the Kentucky Derby: 2013 third-place finisher Ride On Curlin, 2014 third-place finisher Far Right, the first two in 2015 (Mo Tom and Tom’s Ready), and the 2016 winner McCraken.
The lone stakes winner among the 10 runners is Renaissance Frolic (Paynter). He had his first three starts at Gulfstream Park, winning the third of those on the turf course. He then headed to Kentucky Downs, finishing seventh in a stakes race, before returning to Gulfstream Park and winning the one-mile Armed Forces Stakes, which was on the main track after being taken off the turf.
Two others, however, filled placings at grade one level at their previous starts. Bravazo (Awesome Again) and Lone Sailor (Majestic Warrior) finished second and third, respectively, in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity behind Free Drop Billy, rated by some East Coast observers as the most likely horse to beat favorite Bolt d’Oro in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) next week.
Both Bravazo and Lone Sailor entered the Futurity off maiden wins at Saratoga, and though well beaten by Free Drop Billy, the form suggests they should be highly competitive in this.
Honorable Treasure (To Honor and Serve) was impressive in winning his maiden at Saratoga, and then finished sixth in the Champagne Stakes (G1) to Firenze Fire, who’s also likely to start next in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
The other horse with stakes experience is Ebben (Trappe Shot), who finished fourth in the Iroquois Stakes (G3) last month at Churchill Downs behind The Tabulator and Hollywood Star.
Perhaps the most impressive of those yet to take on stakes company is Rubus (Majestic Warrior), who won his seven-furlong maiden at Keeneland Oct. 7. Another tackling the race after a Keeneland maiden victory is Twin Farms (Run Away and Hide), whose win came over 6 ½ furlongs Oct. 14.
Top trainer Mark Casse has entered two horses that won their most recent starts at Churchill Downs Oct. 1: Netas (Congrats), a winner by three-quarters of a length over seven furlongs in 1:24.38, and Souper Smart (Super Saver), a convincing 4 ½-length winner at the same seven furlong trip in 1:23.81.
Gotta Go (Shanghai Bobby), a 4 ¾-length winner in a Churchill Downs maiden Sept. 17, completes the field.
Trying to predict the race is difficult given the lack of comparable form lines between the runners. The performances at grade one level of Bravazo and Lone Sailor are the best in the field, but the maiden winners are also worth a look, particularly Rubus and Souper Smart.
It’s worth keeping a close look at the workouts, and an especially close look at the market on the day, when trying to pick the winner.