Back in 2007, a pair of above-average 3-year-olds named Street Sense and Hard Spun ran 1-2 in the Kentucky Derby (G1), proving their worth at the highest level of the sport.
Fast forward 14 years, and Street Sense and Hard Spun have proven just as successful at stud, with both siring a bevy of Grade 1 winners. Now their bloodlines have combined to produce Capo Kane, a 2021 Kentucky Derby contender bred top and bottom to excel on the first Saturday in May.
Certainly Street Sense displayed a clear affinity for Louisville’s famous oval. In addition to his stretch-running victory in the “Run for the Roses,” Street Sense was voted champion 2-year-old male of 2006 after dominating the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Churchill Downs by a staggering 10 lengths.
As a stallion, Street Sense has proven versatile, siring top-level winners on both dirt and turf. In the U.S., he’s best known for McKinzie, a four-time Grade 1 winner over distances ranging from 7 furlongs to 1 1/8 miles. But Street Sense also enjoyed resounding success from five seasons at stud in Australia, siring a large handful of stakes winners led by Doomben Cup (G1) victor Sense of Occasion and Randwick Guineas (G1) hero Hallowed Crown.
If there’s one shortcoming in Street Sense’s stud resume, it’s the fact his progeny haven’t exactly relished classic distances, with the majority performing best over slightly shorter trips. But in the case of Capo Kane, this is where the bloodlines of Hard Spun may come to rescue.
Even though Hard Spun was more of a sprinter/miler than a genuine classic router, counting the 7-furlong King’s Bishop (G1) as his greatest triumph, he has ironically proven to be a more reliable source of classic stamina than Street Sense. Like his famous Kentucky Derby conqueror, Hard Spun has enjoyed success in multiple hemispheres, siring Grade 1 winners on both dirt and turf in the U.S., Australia, and even South Africa.
But while a few have emulated Hard Spun with success in sprints and miles, a significant percentage have relished racing over 1 1/4 miles or farther. Alabama (G1) winner Questing, Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) winner Hard Aces, Arlington Million (G1) winner Hardest Core, and Cape Derby (G1) winner Ertijaal all scored their signature victories over the Kentucky Derby distance, while the durable Rocketry displayed even greater stamina when recording multiple victories in the 1 3/4-mile Marathon/Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (G2).
Hard Spun is still relatively young, so many chapters remain to be written in his record as a broodmare sire. But already his young daughters are compiling impressive produce records, with their best runners to date including champion 2-year-old and Kentucky Derby runner-up Good Magic, Louisiana Derby (G2) winner Wells Bayou, and Hong Kong Sprint (G1) winner Danon Smash.
Capo Kane’s dam, Twirl Me, failed to distinguish herself as a racehorse, finishing last after refusing to break with the field in her lone start. But her extended family contains plenty of quality; half-brother Mambo Man proved sufficiently long-winded to win the 1 7/8-mile Hasta La Vista H. on turf, while third dam Tuzla prevailed in the Ramona H. (G1), placed second in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), and foaled the graded stakes-caliber grass runners Toscanini (a Group 3 winner) and Tybalt (placed at the Grade 2 level).
If you’re thinking “there sure are a lot of turf influences in Capo Kane’s pedigree,” you’re correct. Even though Street Sense and Hard Spun were tried-and-true dirt stars, the success of their Australian progeny on grass indicates they’re equally capable of siring top-class turf horses. Add the grass-oriented pedigree of Twirl Me into the mix, and it’s reasonable to conclude Capo Kane will have a bright future on the lawn if things don’t work out on the first Saturday in May.