Two grade 1 events for sophomores, the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) and Cotillion Stakes (G1), were contested at Parx Racing over the weekend, and neither did much to clarify leadership of a pair of confusing divisions. The two most likely candidates for champion 3-year-old colt, Maximum Security and Code of Honor , were absent from the Pennsylvania Derby which fell to 31-1 shot Math Wizard, but the Cotillion attracted Guarana, who was generally regarded as the top 3-year-old filly after compiling a three-for-three record that included wins in the Acorn Stakes (G1) and Coaching Club American Oaks (G1). A 6-5 favorite, Guarana took command at the quarter pole but was unable to resist Street Band who powered by to score by 2 1/4 lengths.
This was the first victory at the highest level for Street Band, who if not previously a star, has been a consistent factor in the division. Street Band showed only modest form in five starts at 2, her sole victory coming in an Ellis Park maiden. She took a Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots allowance on her first start this term, then after a fourth in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2), gained her first black-type success in the Twinspires.com Fair Grounds Oaks (G2). Unplaced in the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1), the chestnut rebounded with a decisive Indiana Oaks (G3) triumph before a third in the Alabama Stakes (G1).
A homebred for her owners Larry Jones (who also trains her), Cindy Jones, and Ray Francis, Street Band doesn't have the most fashionable pedigree, but it's one that reflects some thoughtful inbreeding and linebreeding over the generations. We might start at the 1994 Newmarket December Sales, and the purchase of winning 3-year-old Paul Mellon-bred filly Memory's Gold, by the Devonia Stud of Brian Mills for 48,000 guineas (US$78,977). A daughter of Memory Lane, a group-winning sister to Mellon's great runner Mill Reef, Memory's Gold began her career with a visit to Bluebird, a mating that was envisaged even before her purchase. A group 1 winning sprinter, Bluebird was by Northern Dancer's son, Storm Bird, out of a daughter of the important mare, Dusky Evening. That made Bluebird an interesting match for Memory's Gold, whose sire, Java Gold, was out of the multiple graded stakes winner Javamine, a daughter of Nijinsky II (a Northern Dancer son with several pedigree elements in common with Storm Bird) and Dusky Evening.
The resultant foal, a filly to be named Ronda, was consigned to the 1997 Tattersalls October Newmarket Yearling Sales, where she was purchased by another keen pedigree student, Dario Hinajosa, for 30,000gns ($51,093). A now-retired Spanish businessman who maintains a small farm in Normandy, Hinajosa has been remarkably successful over the years, known in the U.S. for a number of horses he has bred and/or raced, among them grade 1 winners Bribon and Chinchon, and graded scorers Pharatta and Andujar. At the track, Ronda proved to be a shrewd purchase, taking the Greene King Falmouth Stakes (G2) in England, and Prix de Sandringham (G3) in France. She also campaigned in the U.S., earning a second in the 2000 Just a Game Breeders' Cup Handicap (G3T), and thirds in the Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap (G1T) and Jenny Wiley Stakes (G3T).
The first choice of mate for Ronda, Gone West, was another interesting one from a pedigree standpoint. Already successful with Storm Bird line mares, Gone West was out of Secrettame, a daughter of Secretariat out of mare by Tim Tam. This meant that Secrettame was bred on rather similar lines to Bluebird's dam, Ivory Dawn, by a son of Secretariat's half brother, Sir Gaylord, out of a mare by Tim Tam. Furthermore, Secretariat represented the Nasrullah/Princequillo cross, which was also found—via Never Bend—combined with Tim Tam in Ronda's dam Memory Gold.
From that mating Ronda produced Istan, who showed useful form at six and seven furlongs racing for Hinajosa in France. He did his best work in the U.S. at 5 when he captured the Artax Handicap, Ellis Park Governor's Handicap, Turfway Park Fall Championship Stakes (G3), and Ack Ack Handicap (G3). Sold at the end of that season to stand at Airdie Stud in Midway, Ky., unfortunately the start of Istan's stud career coincided with the economic crash. After having 42 foals from his first year at stud, he was then represented by successive crops of 16, 13, 10, and 15 foals. Given his limited opportunities, Istan has proved distinctly useful. From 137 starters, he has been represented to date by nine stakes winners. In addition to Street Band, they include graded scorers Istanford, Mr. Bowling, Albano, and Turkish.
Street Minstrel, the dam of Street Band, won a maiden special weight and an allowance at Oaklawn Park in the last two of her five starts. She is half sister to the multiple stakes winning and graded placed Grand Heritage (by Grand Slam, a Gone West son with a very similar background to Istan). The second dam, Minstrel's Lassie, won the Prix La Fleche in France, and the Selima Stakes (G1T) on a visit to the U.S., and is a granddaughter of Allaire duPont's top-class racemare, Politely.
When we consider Street Band's own pedigree pattern, we see that Street Minstrel strongly compliments the background built-up in Istan's pedigree. Istan is a Mr. Prospector/Storm Bird cross going back to a sister to Mill Reef, where Street Minstrel is by a Mr. Prospector line stallion with a second dam by Riverman (close relative to Mill Reef), out of a mare by The Minstrel (close relative to Storm Bird). And behind that we have Flaming Page (through the three-quarters relatives, Nijinsky II and The Minstrel) along with three crosses of Tim Tam, who is bred on a reverse cross to Flaming Page. The result is a very high Ancestral History Coefficient (meaning the deep background of sire and dam are very similar) something which a fairly recent paper (Found-specific inbreeding depression affects racing performance in Thoroughbred horses, Evelyn T. Todd, Simon Y. H. Ho, Peter C. Thomson, Rachel A Ang, Brandon D. Velie, and Natasha Hamilton) identified as a positive for performance.