Monday, November 23, 2009

This year's special horse


Sea the Stars winning le Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe

(photo from the Times - Boris Horvat)

In prepping for the posts surrounding my old chapter 9, I thought I would look for this year’s Makybe Diva type of story. In this year, which could have easily been described as the year of the filly and mare after the Breeders Cup, I didn’t have to look past the year’s world number one ranked thoroughbred for my story.

Sea the Stars did not cross the ocean to make one last start in the Breeders Cup. He retired to stud on a winning note after winning le prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on October 4, 2009. It was his eighth straight victory after finishing 4th in his maiden start as a two-year-old in 2008 and what a stretch of great victories in 2009. The 2000 Guineas followed by the Epsom Derby and the Eclipse Stakes then the Juddmonte International followed by the Irish Champion Stakes and finally the Arc. As if that list was not impressive enough it was the way he did it. I watched a few of these races as I researched the races themselves without putting together the big picture until now. Every one of these wins was dramatic and breathtaking. He has been described as “pure box-office, with a timing and delivery to match Hollywood's finest” and by some “one of the greatest thoroughbreds of all time”. You have to watch the videos linked here to understand this “super” star. His trademark is to come from behind and thread the needle with his ears pinned back to find a seam to attack the leaders and wear them down. He is amazing to watch and has become a fan favorite even in France.

He is the son of Cape Cross out of Green Desert out of Danzig so it could be another strong male line for our Dancer. There are some, saying his value could be in excess of $100 million as a stallion. But in this the year of the mare we may want to look at his dam, Urban Sea. Urban Sea won the Arc herself in 1993 (one of only 5 fillies to accomplish that feat). She is also one of only two mares to produce Epsom and Eclipse double winners. She was also the dam of Galileo, the other Epsom/Eclipse double winner and already a leading sire in Britain. Tragically, Urban Sea died this year giving birth to her last foal. The foal survived the birth.

The owner of Sea the Stars is the 27 year-old nightclub owner, with his trademark Ipod ear buds stuck in his ears, Christopher Tsui. His parents, the Hong Kong based, David and Ling Tsui wanted their son to get more involved in their racing business so he was installed as the owner of Sea the Stars. In one of his early assignments as owner, the young man passed out from excitement after his horse won the Eclipse stakes in July. He will not make the same mistake as his parents who sold their interest in half brother Galileo before he reached the track and now he looks like he could be the heir apparent to Sadler’s Wells as Britain’s top stallion. Tsui has turned down the offers from Sheikh Mohammed who will probably end up with a partial interest in the breeding rights of this latest superstar.

The trainer and jockey of Sea the Stars are just as interesting as those of Makybe Diva (or maybe even Seabiscuit). Veterinarian, John Oxx has trained in the shadow of Ballydoyle’s dynamic duo of Vincent and Aidan O’Brien (no relation) ever since he started training in 1979. In fact in this year’s Juddmonte International it was just a four-horse field with Sea the Stars and three Aidan O’Brien trained horses but John Oxx doesn’t have to take a back seat to anyone when it comes to his training record and it looks like Sea the Stars will “see” to that.

Jockey, Michael (Mick) Kinane was aboard Sea the Stars in all 9 of his starts. He has been Ireland’s leading jockey thirteen times. He has won the Epsom Derby three times as well as the 2000 Guineas, Melbourne Cup in Australia and the Belmont Stakes in the US. He may retire shortly and would certainly go out a winner after the season he had with Sea the Stars. Once again, you have to watch the videos to appreciate not only Sea the Stars but also the performances of Mick. Mick also bred the 2007 Epsom Derby winner and Northern Dancer great-grandson Authorized.

Despite the amazing performances of the mares this year it’s Sea the Stars who gets my vote as horse of the year in this the Chinese year of the Ox(x).

Great little tribute to Sea the Stars after the Arc

1) Link to 2000 Guineas Video

2) Link to the Epsom Derby Video

3) Link to the Eclipse Stakes Video

4) Link to the Juddmonte International Video

5) Link to the Irish Champion Stakes Video

6) Link to the Prix l'Arc de Triomphe Video

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