Tomorrow we will find out just how much Darley has paid for the breeding rights to Street Sense, but there is little doubt in my mind that this deal was in the works for weeks (probably immediately following the Derby, if not earlier), and definitely played a role in keeping the horse out of the Belmont. In a previous post, I unwittingly tiptoed around this very issue without putting two-and-two together, being somewhat naïve about the business of horseracing. Clearly, the decision was, and is, all about money.
Once Curlin won the Preakness, the potential of a Triple Crown win was gone, so Street Sense’s value dropped a bit. Imagine what would happen to his price if he had lost the Belmont too. Tafel, Nafzger and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum knew. Street Sense would be the Derby winner (nothing can take that away), but he would be just another three-year-old who failed to live up to high expectations. A great stud career ahead, but a tad of the bloom would be off.
When Nafzger said today: “There are a lot of stipulations and clauses, as there always is with a major deal like this.” While we may never know if staying out of the Belmont was one of these, apparently running in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in an obvious attempt to garner Horse of the Year honors is. In an ideal world, Street Sense comes back with a strong fall campaign, wins the Classic and retires to studly bliss at $100,000 a pop. However, the pessimist in me says, there is very real concern for a fragile constitution in him and we may never see him race again. Oh, they may enter him, and then pull him out for vague reasons. I hope I am wrong. If he doesn't run again, their hope has to be that Curlin gets beat in the Belmont, the rest of the year sees muddling results like most of the three-year-old campaign thus far, and an older horse like Invasor wins the Classic, leaving Street Sense in higher value by default.
Since there has been no public acknowledgement that Street Sense has an injury, why else keep him out of the Belmont except for fear of losing, both a race and future income. If he ran in the Belmont and won, how would that irrevocably harm him from successfully pursuing a racing campaign up to and including the Classic? Wouldn’t that, in fact, prove strength of constitution that would be appealing? I’m not saying that Street Sense and Curlin are a modern day Affirmed and Alydar (obviously), but potentially winning two of three legs of the Triple Crown (and losing the other by a nose) is a worthy achievement, and certainly would bode well for Street Sense in future breeding prospects. Alas, it's not to be.
What a disappointment to this fan, who likes to see horses actually run against other horses, and the powerful momentum coming out of the Preakness wetted my desire to see real competition among these talented colts.