Remembering the 2007 Tampa Bay Derby; Street Sense & Any Given Saturday duel to the wire

Profile Picture: James Scully

March 10th, 2016

Saturday’s $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2) features the return of juvenile Grade 1 winner Brody’s Cause, a highly-ranked Kentucky Derby (G1) contender who was last seen rallying for third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).

Others with Kentucky Derby aspirations include the Todd Pletcher-trained pair duo of Destin and Outwork; Swale (G2) runner-up Economic Model; and Grey (G3) winner Riker, who makes his first appearance since a sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

The Tampa Bay Derby has developed into a legitimate prep, with well-regarded Kentucky Derby contenders such as Carpe Diem and Verrazano winning in recent years. Super Saver was the last participant to capture the first leg of the Triple Crown, finishing a close third in the 2010 Tampa Bay Derby before scoring in the slop at Churchill Downs two starts later.

However, the Tampa Bay Derby wasn’t relevant during its early years. The race originated in 1981 and the first 25 editions featured a winning roster of mostly second-tier level 3-year-olds.

The profile of the 1 1/16-mile race changed in 2007; that’s when 2-year-old champion Street Sense targeted the Tampa Bay Derby for his sophomore bow. And Street Sense wasn’t the only prominent horse on hand that year as Any Given Saturday returned for the track centerpiece’s event following a 2 ¾-length victory in the Sam F. Davis four weeks earlier.

Third in his first two stakes attempts, Street Sense was overlooked at 15-1 odds in the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile but parlayed a rail-skimming trip into a 10-length romp at Churchill Downs. The performance garnered the Eclipse Award for the Carl Nafzger-trained colt but many observers were surprised when the well-respected (and future Hall of Fame) conditioner announced that Street Sense would point for the Tampa Bay Derby during the winter.

As it turned out, Street Sense wouldn’t even be favored in the Tampa Bay Derby.

Any Given Saturday won his first two starts for Todd Pletcher before concluding his juvenile season with a close second in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2). By Distorted Humor, sire of 2003 Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide, Any Given Saturday hailed from a classy female family packed with stamina. And when the dark bay colt opened 2010 with a smashing performance in the Sam Davis, his reputation improved significantly.

Bettors hammered Any Given Saturday down as the 3-5 chalk with John Velazquez, with Street Sense and Calvin Borel the 6-5 second choice among seven starters. The duo hooked up in upper stretch, with Any Given Saturday taking the overland route past rivals off the far turn as Street Sense once again found clear sailing for his patented rail bid.

It proved to be a thrilling battle to the wire, with track announcer Richard Grunder declaring it “too close to call.”

Street Sense came out on top by a nose. He just missed in his final prep, finishing a nose second in the Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland, but rebounded with a 2 ¼-length victory in the Kentucky Derby over Hard Spun, with eventual Horse of the Year Curlin third.

The son of Street Cry also won the Jim Dandy (G2) and Travers (G1) that season.

Any Given Saturday dropped his next start, checking in third in the Wood Memorial (G1), and wound up a disappointing eighth in the Kentucky Derby. He made only two more starts that season, easily capturing the Dwyer (G2) before a convincing 4 ¼-length victory in the Haskell Invitational (G1), leaving runner-up Hard Spun and third-placer Curlin in his wake at Monmouth Park.

Photo of Street Sense (inside) edging Any Given Saturday courtesy of Stephanie Van Minos and Tom Cooley/