06/25/2014 4:54PM

James Tafel, owner and breeder of Street Sense, dies at 90

Michael J. Marten
The late James B. Tafel owned and bred Street Sense, the only horse to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Kentucky Derby.

James B. Tafel, owner and breeder of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, died Wednesday in his home at the Village of Golf, Fla. He was 90.

Tafel became active in the Thoroughbred industry in the 1980s, shortly after retiring from a lengthy career in the publishing business, with the help of Cot Campbell of Dogwood Stable.

His biggest success was Street Sense, a homebred who became the first horse to win both the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Kentucky Derby. The son of Street Cry earned an Eclipse Award in 2006 as champion 2-year-old male on the strength of his Breeders’ Cup win. He now stands at Darley’s Jonabell Farm in Lexington, Ky.

Tafel also co-owned Banshee Breeze, the champion 3-year-old filly of 1998, with Jayeff B Stable. Other notable stakes winners owned and/or bred by Tafel include Vicar, Unshaded, Til Forbid, Coolawin, Metfield, and Binalong.
Since 2000, Tafel-owned horses have won 238 races for earnings of over $14.6 million. Tafel’s primary trainer throughout his career in racing was Carl Nafzger.

Tafel based the bulk of his breeding operation at Mill Ridge Farm in Lexington, Ky., whose staff helped him select the mating between then-first-crop sire Street Cry and the winning Dixieland Band mare Bedazzle that produced Street Sense.

A native of Pittsburgh, Pa., Tafel graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1950 after serving in the Air Force in World War II. He spent 30 years with Technical Publishing Company, a trade and professional magazine company near his home in Barrington, Ill., starting in sales in 1953 and retiring as president and CEO in 1983.

Tafel is survived by his wife Ida May, as well as daughter Julie Tafel Klaus, son James Jr., and granddaughters Victoria Tafel, Haley Klaus, and Cameron Klaus.

Andy Dunstan More than 1 year ago
I got to know Mr. Tafel while woking at the Country Club Of Florida in the late 80's early 90's when he had runners like Coolawin, Metfield, and Binalong. I followed his horses for years, mostly at Gulfstream Park, and can proudly say I had Street Sense the day he won the Derby. He was truly a gracious gentleman.
Mike Gordon More than 1 year ago
What a great gentleman, so kind and helpful, singed a poster of streetsense for my grandniece who still has it on her wall
Mike Gordon More than 1 year ago
What a true gentleman so kind and helpful
Rebecca Single More than 1 year ago
I'm so sorry to hear about this- truly a champion - my condolences to his family.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very classy man, he will be missed by many.
Peter Siipola More than 1 year ago
was lucky enough to meet him -- a true gentleman
Lawrence Vaccarelli More than 1 year ago
its sad ..the passing of giants of the game. RIP
Steve Reed More than 1 year ago
His Street Sense Won the Tampa Bay Derby in preparation for the Kentucky Derby. He destroyed the field as a juvenile in The Breeders Cup. Has produced several solid progeny. Mr. Tafel was a Class Act, Carl Nafzger is a class act himself.
nicholas More than 1 year ago
Couldn't agree more-- a credit to the sport condolences to the family
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
My condolences to his family.Thank you for all you contributed to thoroughbred racing. All the great ones like Mr Tafel are what racing ought to be about. Class, dignity, respect, sportsmanship, and integrity. We should all be so lucky to leave such a legacy.
Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
That all shows in who he selected to Train his horses. Here's to his Family.