A daughter of the swift miler Istan (now exiled to Saudi Arabia), Street Band is a fourth-generation descendant of Politely, a first-rate mare who was never quite able to nail a championship down but was nonetheless the pride of Maryland while she was racing. Her combination of class, consistency and durability is well worth remembering in a time when few top horses seem to be keeping their best form for more than half a season.
Sired by the willful but highly talented Amerigo, a son of Nearco who got his signature win in the 1960 San Juan Capistrano Handicap, Politely was a member of a good family that includes 1945 Kentucky Derby winner Hoop, Jr. and 1932 American Derby winner Gusto. Like many of her kith and kin, she took some time to mature and was at her peak at 4 and 5. Unfortunately for her, her best seasons coincided with the handicap championship years of Straight Deal (1967) and Gamely (1968), who both sealed their titles in head-to-head competition with the daughter of Amerigo,
Politely, thus, served as something of a measuring stick for the best of her division for two consecutive seasons, and the standard she set was a high one, The rugged mare won five stakes at 4, including a track-record trouncing of Straight Deal in the Matchmaker Handicap, and bettered herself with seven stakes wins at 5, including the rich Delaware Handicap and a second win in the Matchmaker (in which she equaled her own track record). In her final major victory, she carried 131 pounds to the laurels in the Firenze Handicap. She retired having won 21 of 49 starts with 14 placings and earnings of $552,972. In its year-end assessments for 1968, the Daily Racing Form awarded her a consolation prize; she did not win the voting for the official championship, but the DRF's handicapper Kenny Noe, Jr., rated her 2 pounds above Gamely, who carried off the official title.
As a broodmare, Politely was modestly successful considering her own class and that of her mates. Her best runners were Grade II-placed stakes winner Northerly (by Northern Dancer) and Salutely (by Hoist the Flag), a colt of similar record who did his racing in Ireland. Politely's overall record, however, was upgraded by her first three daughters, all of which became graded stakes producers.
Syriasly (by Damascus) was the third of those daughters, and her chief contribution to Politely's family was 1987 Selima Stakes (USA-I) winner Minstrel's Lassie (by The Minstrel). In spite of her performance and bloodlines, Minstrel's Lassie was also something of a disappointment as a broodmare, with Grade III-placed stakes winner Grand Heritage (by Grand Slam) as her only black-type winner. Minstrel's Lassie, however, was bred to a lesser collection of sires than was Politely, and her Street Cry daughter Street Minstrel has gone some way to redeem her dam by producing Street Band as her sixth foal. Since then, Street Minstrel has foaled a 2017 full sister to Street Band, Street Missy; a 2018 colt by Summer Front; and a 2019 filly by Summer Front.
Street Band still has a way to go to emulate her great-great-granddam, but it can be hoped that she will continue to bring back memories of a mare who, if not quite great, was not far from it. There are far worse role models to have.