Like a conductor at the symphony, jockey Sophie Doyle made some subtle changes to how Street Band played on the racetrack, and that helped the Istan filly spring the near 11-1 upset in the TwinSpires.com Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) on Saturday.
Coming off a fourth-place finish to 3-10 favorite Serengeti Empress in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2) last month at Fair Grounds, Street Band tracked the pace set by Serengeti Empress and Slewgoodtobetrue before tracking Liora into contention and overtaking that foe to cruise to a 3 3/4-length score. She finished 1 1/16 miles over the fast main track in 1:44.54.
“The race set up the same as last time, but I just managed to just get her to drop her head,” Doyle said.
“In the last race, her head was up, I was getting hounded from behind, and I didn’t have as much room. Today we just had a beautiful trip and everything set up right. Her head dropped down today and she traveled into the bit, the last time he head was up and she was fighting me a bit and every step was like relax, filly, relax. Today she took it like a professional and traveled great.”
Serengeti Empress looked on cruise control early through mild fractions of :24.12 and :47.48 before beginning to back up through the field turning for home. She was eased across the line by jockey James Graham and was vanned back to trainer Tom Amoss’s barn.
“She bled,” Amoss said. “She’s 100 percent sound.”
Liora ran well to be second and looked poised to take control of the race when Serengeti Empress faltered, but she could not withstand the challenge from Street Band.
“I thought I had a perfect trip,” jockey Channing Hill said of Liora. “She broke out a step on the outside, but she put herself in the game. Once I put (the favorite) away, I was just hoping my filly wouldn’t quit. She didn’t, but that otherwise was just better.”
Street Band earned 100 points toward a starting berth in the May 3 Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs. She now sits atop the Oaks Leaderboard with 105 total points. Liora fills the second spot on the Leaderboard with 71 total points after earning 40 for her second in the Fair Grounds Oaks, while Sweet Diane is in 11th with 22 total points, 20 of which came for third on Saturday. Eres Tu rounded out the superfecta in the Fair Grounds Oaks and took home 10 points, good for ninth on the Leaderboard with 24 total points.
Street Band’s win was big for her connections, as trainer Larry Jones also co-owns and co-bred the filly with his wife, Cindy, and C. Ray Francis. This was Street Band’s second stakes try and she now boasts a career record of 8-3-02, $310,325.
Bred in Kentucky, Street Band is the first registered stakes winner out of the Street Cry mare Street Minstrel.