12/11/2017 9:17AM

Sparkman: Street Sense shows he belongs with CashCall Futurity winner McKinzie

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Benoit
McKinzie (right), a son of Street Sense, finished second in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at Los Alamitos, but was promoted to first by disqualification.

Throughout the history of the American and Japanese breeding industries, export of a prominent American stallion to Japan has been a sure sign of acceptance of failure. Thus, when it was announced in October 2012 that Street Sense would stand the 2013 season at Darley Stud’s Japanese outpost, it was fair to assume that his career in America was over.

At that point, Street Sense’s first foals were only 3-year-olds, and he had sired Grade 3 winners Castaway (out of Princess Storm, by Storm Cat) and Motor City (Shawgatney, by Danzig Connection), and two other stakes winners from that first crop and, logically, it was far too early to reach a negative conclusion on Street Sense’s ability as a sire. But the contemporary stallion market is harsh and unforgiving, and any stallion who does not immediately sire multiple Grade 1 winners is quickly cast aside.

Those Grade 1 winners, predictably, began appearing while Street Sense was in Japan, with Aubby K (Lilly Capote, by Capote) winning the Grade 1 Humana Distaff and Sweet Reason (Livermore Leslie, by Mt. Livermore) the Grade 1 Spinaway, and Street Sense returned to his home base at Darley at Jonabell for the 2014 breeding season.

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The first major benefit of that return appeared Saturday at Los Alamitos when Street Sense’s highly touted 2-year-old son McKinzie was awarded the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity by the disqualification of first-place finisher Solomini, who had finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. McKinzie is the ninth Grade 1 winner sired by Street Sense, but the first colt in North America.

Street Sense himself was the horse who put his sire, Street Cry, on the map as a stallion with his sensational victory in the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Bred in Kentucky by his owner Jim Tafel out of the Dixieland Band mare Bedazzle, Street Sense was one of four Grade 1 winners in Street Cry’s first crop, which included the late-developing Zenyatta. A very tall, lanky horse, Street Sense was trained by Carl Nafzger. He won his second start before running third in both the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity and Grade1 Breeders’ Futurity. Under a rail-hugging ride from Calvin Borel, Street Sense rallied from far back in the Juvenile and sprinted away down the stretch to win by 10 lengths, earning champion-2-year-old male honors.

He returned at 3 with a nose victory over Any Given Saturday in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby, but was beaten a nose by Dominican in the Grade 1 Blue Grass. Borel produced almost a carbon copy of his Juvenile ride in the Kentucky Derby, and Street Sense again produced a huge rally and drew off to beat Hard Spun by 2 1/4 lengths. Street Sense looked like a sure winner at the top of the stretch in the Preakness, but the rapidly improving Curlin nailed him on the wire for a head victory.

Street Sense skipped the Belmont but comfortably defeated modest fields in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy and Grade 1 Travers before succumbing to Hard Spun in the Kentucky Cup Classic. Curlin, however, won the pivotal race of the season, the Breeders’ Cup Classic, with Street Sense 10 lengths back in fourth over a sloppy track he probably could not handle.

Retired to Darley in 2008, he also shuttled to Australia up to his sojourn in Japan, but with only limited success. Street Sense has now sired 54 stakes winners from his 897 foals age 3 and up, a 6 percent strike rate, but it is Grade 1 winners, particularly 2-year-old Grade 1 winners, that drive a stallion’s popularity. McKinzie’s Futurity victory, along with the success of current juvenile stakes winners Avery Island and City Plan, will surely attract mares to Street Sense next spring.

Bred in Kentucky by Summer Wind Farm, McKinzie was purchased for $170,000 at the 2016 Keeneland September sale by Karl Watson, Michael Pegram, and Paul Weitman. He is the seventh foal and first stakes winner out of Runway Model, by Petionville, a high-class racemare purchased by Summer Wind for $2.7 million, in foal to Storm Cat, at the 2006 Keeneland November sale. Winner of the Grade 2 Alcibiades and Golden Rod Stakes at 2 and second in the Grade 1 Ashland at 3, Runway Model is half-sister to stakes winner Mambo Train, by Kingmambo, out of stakes winner Ticket to Houston, by Houston. Ticket to Houston is half-sister to Grade 3 winner Sea Ditty, by Afleet, and stakes winner Ghost Story, by Silver Ghost.

Runway Model, whose fifth foal, Rompin’ Reid, by Medaglia d’Oro, placed in stakes, has produced current yearling colt Lock Box, by Super Saver, and the 2017 filly Map Maker, by Liam’s Map. Lock Box sold for only $45,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September sale.