Street Band’s Distaff Represents Exciting Firsts For Her Connections
Horse, Owner, Trainer and Jockey All Seek Initial World Championships Victory
By Kaeli Bartholomew
When the bell rings and the 3-year-old filly Street Band springs from the gates in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) at Santa Anita on November 2, it will be a moment of firsts for many — it will be jockey Sophie Doyle’s first shot at winning the Breeders’ Cup Distaff and also the first time many of Street Band’s owners will have a horse running in a Breeders’ Cup race, let alone a winner. And though trainer Larry Jones has tightened the girth on six previous starters on Racing’s Championship Day, a victory by one of his charges has so far eluded him.
So to say this year’s Distaff is destined to be a heart-pounding race for everyone involved with this filly is an understatement.
Back when Street Band was a 2-year old, few imagined that one day she’d be a grade 1 winner. The daughter of Istan was grinding at the maiden and allowance level for her five starts in 2018 and though she lost her debut by 28 lengths she rebounded to break her maiden by 7 ¼ lengths. She struggled to win afterward — she finished fifth in an allowance race at Keeneland and then notched two third-place finishes in allowance races at Fair Grounds. She didn’t get another picture in the winner’s circle until January 13, 2019, when she prevailed by a nose in a first-level allowance after a gritty stretch duel.
After that performance her connections felt that it was finally time for her to step up into the graded stakes level, so Street Band was entered in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (GII) at Fair Grounds. Not surprisingly, Street Band went off at odds of more than 17-1 and managed a decent fourth-place finish despite some significant trouble. She then went on to win the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) by 3 ¾ lengths and earn 105 points to qualify for the Kentucky Oaks (GI).
Street Band had a lot on the line in the Oaks, chiefly breeder/co-owner/trainer Jones was hoping to add another to his three Kentucky Oaks wins (Proud Spell, Believe You Can, and Lovely Maria) and Doyle was hoping for her first career grade 1 win and Kentucky Oaks win all in one. Unfortunately for everyone involved, Street Band finished a disappointing sixth.
Thankfully this filly’s story didn’t end there. Since her loss in the Oaks, Street Band has been steadily improving. She was given two months off before putting on a show in the Indiana Oaks (GIII) in July, winning with absolute ease. Most recently, Street Band and Doyle teamed up to win their first grade 1 in the Cotillion Stakes (GI) at Parx in a tremendous performance that saw them roaring down the stretch to run by the favored Guarana in stunning fashion, crossing the wire 2 ¼ lengths ahead of their rivals.
Street Band’s victory in Cotillion earned her an automatic berth in the Distaff and also a chance for her connections to prove she is among the elite in her division. Jones, despite his tremendous successes, though yet to earn an elusive Breeders’ Cup victory, has been close twice before — Proud Spell and Hard Spun were both second in the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) and Classic, respectively.
Doyle has tried and failed in the Breeders’ Cup too. She piloted Fioretti in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (GI), but the pair finished a well-beaten 13th. The total number of female jockeys to ride in the Breeders’ Cup is low and the number of female jockeys to actually win a Breeders’ Cup race is even lower and stands at just two.
Street Band will also be carrying the hopes and dreams of her many co-owners upon her back. Jones sold a percentage of Street Band to the unique racing syndicate MyRacehorse, who in turn sold 50 shares to others through their mobile app. Street Band likely will be the first Breeders’ Cup starter for most of these owners, as my MyRacehorse’s ease of use and inexpensive shares are attractive to potential new owners in the sport.
So if Street Band is victorious, there will be a huge cause for celebration in the horse racing community because it would represent a few significant things – her win would would mean a rare triumph for a female jockey, the joy of a huge win for her newly minted co-owners, who have shown a significant amount of success with their innovative syndicate initiative, and also a long-deserved victory for a trainer who has dedicated his life to his horses.