Street Sense Outjumps Grasshopper in Travers
He was the favorite for a reason, and Street Sense proved he belongs at the top of the 3-year-old division by clinching the 138th running of the Travers Stakes (gr. I) (VIDEO) at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 25.
The son of Street Cry turned back the determined Neil Howard trainee Grasshopper after hooking up in a fierce duel at the head of the stretch. Bred and owned by James Tafel, he ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.69 for trainer Carl Nafzger and jockey Calvin Borel.
"It’s a wonderful ride,” said Borel. “I told my fiancée the colt of Neil’s was gonna run a big race, but you can’t take nothing from my colt."
Street Sense sat up close to the pace in third as Grasshopper and CP West led through early fractions of :23.68 and :48.18. On the backside, Grasshopper moved up to take the lead under Robby Albarado, running three-quarters of a mile in 1:12.43.
Street Sense "took control at the 16th pole,” said Nafzger. "But when you have a slower pace, it gives everyone a chance to run at you. (Street Sense) couldn’t goof around like he sometimes does. He nearly always will finish when he's hooked up eyeball to eyeball, but when he gets up about a length in front he pricks his ears. Grasshopper didn't give him a chance to prick his ears today.”
Nafzger is the fifth trainer since 1901 to win the Alabama and Travers in the same year, and the first since since LeRoy Jolley in 1976. He won the Alabama with Lady Joanne a week ago.
Borel, who rode Grasshopper in his last start (a 6-length allowance victory at Saratoga July 30), said, "I asked him pretty good and he ran away from the other horse pretty quick, but you can't take anything away from the other horse, either. I've been on him, and I thought I had him measured pretty good."
Street Sense was the first Kentucky Derby winner to run in the Travers since 1995, when Thunder Gulch also won both races. Out of the Dixieland Band mare Bedazzle, Street Sense now has six wins from 10 career starts, including the July 29 Jim Dandy (gr. II) at Saratoga, the May 5 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I).
Grasshopper, a son of Dixie Union out of the Mr. Prospector mare Grass Skirt, took his career to a new level as he stepped out of the allowance ranks to give Street Sense a run for his money. He now has four wins from six career starts and has never finished worse than third.
"At every point I thought I had him beat until the last stride," said Albarado. "Street Sense is a champion, but this horse is only going to get better."
Neil Howard called Street Sense "unbelievable," adding, "We were thrilled. It was a great effort. He's a nice colt, and he's never run a bad race. We might have to try (Street Sense) again."
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