Friday, October 2, 2009

Horse Racing World Looks To Sea The Stars

All eyes of the horse racing world will look to Longchamp Racecourse Sunday as the brilliant Sea The Stars, winner of five Group One races this season, attempts to add his name to the honor roll of great Classic Champion Thoroughbreds that have won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Undefeated in 11 starts, the great English Triple Crown Champion Nijinsky also amassed five Group One races prior to the running of the 1970 Arc and, yet, even he came up short barely losing to a fresh Sassafras. Afterwards, trainer Vincent O’Brien speculated that the Arc had been too quick a turn around off Nijinsky’s St. Leger triumph.

Trainer John Oxx won the coveted Arc in 2000 with Sinndar for the HH Aga Khan IV and he is enthusiastic about the chance of his charge, Sea The Stars, to cross the finish line triumphant.

“He seems to be in very good form and is in no way down in himself or showing any effects of his campaign,” said Oxx in a Racing Post news story. “He is giving us the normal good signals that he has been giving all season.”

So, only time will tell if the campaign of Sea The Stars eventually proves to be too much for the brilliant Cape Cross colt.

Win or lose, Sea The Stars has already proven that he is one for the ages.After his Irish Champion Stakes (Group 1) victory Sea the Stars was awarded a 140 Timeform rating putting him in the same league of the Group One Champion Dubai Millenium and the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Dancing Brave, Shergar and Vaguely Noble.

Riding legend Lester Piggott, who rode Nijinsky in the 1970 Arc and has three Arc victories to his credit, thinks that Sea The Stars is deserving of the accolades.

“You have to compare Sea The Stars with the best we have seen, because the way he has run this year has been fantastic,” said Piggott in a Racing Post article. “He is a stand-out this year. He is such an easy-going horse, he has a wonderful temperament, and that is what has helped him along the way.”

A victory in the Arc would insure Sea The Stars a spot in the hallowed halls of turf racing. A lot of history has already preceeded him.

French Hall of Fame Thoroughbred Sea Bird II is considered by many to be the greatest Arc Champion. He cruised to an easy victory in the 1965 Arc defeating the undefeated French Derby winner Reliance by six lengths. Also in that field were the Preakness winner Tom Rofle, Irish Derby winner Meadow Court and Russian Derby winner Anilin. During his career, Sea Bird II was awarded a 145 Timeform rating which still stands today as the highest rating ever earned by a thoroughbred in flat racing.

My personal favorite, though, is the undefeated dual Arc winner Ribot who, having previously won the Arc in 1955, capped off a brilliant 16-race career with a six-length triumph in the 1956 Arc.

Ribot was bred and owned by the great Italian breeder and trainer Federico Tesio – one of my all-time favorite breeders. Known as the “Wizard of Dormello,” Tesio bred and trained an incredible 21 Derby Italiano winners as well as the outstanding Donatello and Nearco. Without a doubt, Ribot was Tesio’s greatest racehorse. But, Tesio died of old age in 1954 and he did not live to see Ribot achieve fame and glory.

Ribot is a descendent of the St. Simon sire line which produced 17 Arc winners. St. Simon was one of Tesio’s favorite lines that he liked to breed to and, in fact, Ribot has seven strains of St. Simon in his pedigree.

Not only was Ribot an outstanding champion thoroughbred, but he also was an exceptional stallion and he sired the Arc winners Molvedo (1961) and Prince Royal (1964). His grandson Hoist The Flag sired the dual Arc winner Alleged who won the Arc in 1977 and 1978. Descendents of Ribot still continue to influence the breed to this day.

Bruleur was a leading sire in France for three seasons and another influential stallion in the history of the Arc. Bruleur is a descendent of the Byerley Turk sire line and he holds the record of having sired the most Arc winners: Ksar who won the Arc in 1921 and 1922, Priori (1925) and Samos (1935).

Ksar also became an influential stallion in the history of the Arc and instrumental in the success of the great breeder Marcel Boussac who won the Arc a record six times. In 1928 a mating by Ksar with Boussac’s broodmare Durban produced Tourbillon who later would become a leading sire in France that sired several Classic Champion Thoroughbreds for Boussac.

Tourbillon sired the 1942 Arc winner Djebel and Caracalla who won the Arc in 1946. Djebel sired the 1949 Arc winner Coronation.

The bloodstock operation of the Aga Khan also had an impact on the Arc. He won the won the Arc in 1948 with Migoli and Nuccio won it in 1952. Both horses were descendents of the St. Simon sire line.

The Aga Khan’s grandson, HH Aga Khan IV, has also had a lot of Arc success with four victories to his credit. His most recent win came Last year when his outstanding filly Zarkava crossed the finish line triumphant.

Of the previous Arc winners, most of them are descendents of the Darley Arabian sire line of Whalebone and his descendents Stockwell, Phalaris and Nearco. The sire line of Stockwell has produced 45 (52%) Arc winners. Of those 45 Arc winners, 35 (78%) of them are from the line of Phalaris and 28 are from the line of Nearco.

The sire line of Nearco’s son Nasrullah has produced 12 Arc winners and the line of his son Royal Charger produced two Arc winners. The sire line of Nearco’s grandson, Northern Dancer, has produced 14 Arc winners and in the past 15 years, 11 of those Arc winners are descendents of the Northern Dancer line.

Sea The Stars is a descendent of the Danzig line of Northern Dancer and the Danzig line has produced three Arc winners: Dylan Thomas (2007), Rail Link (2006) and Sinndar (2000). His dam, Urban Sea, won the 1993 Arc.

Sea The Stars comes from a family of Arc winners. But, it remains to be seen if Sea The Stars can carry on the family tradition.

Only time will tell.


  1. Hi Calvin, great commentary on the great Classic Champion Thoroughbreds that have won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

    Last year many of the European horse eclipse the year end honors given to the North American racing after the Breeders Cup.

    Is it possible for Sea The Stars, if triumphs in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and then the Breeders Cup, be voted North America Horse of the Year over Rachel?

  2. Hi Calvin
    Always enjoy your write up...I'm hoping to see 'Sea the Stars' tomorrow live on what ever channel we get out in LV.
    AND a shout out to you for Summer Bird's win today. That's your boy!!
    SR Vegas

  3. Barry,

    That's a good question. I would like for Sea The Stars to compete in the Breeders' Cup Classic but, considering the campaign that he has raced, my guess is that his owner will give him a rest after the Arc.

    But, then again, you never know what these owners will do. Keep your fingers crossed!

    SR Vegas,

    Thanks for stopping by to visit and thanks for the shout out for Summer Bird.

    I'm so glad to see him doing so well and I would love for him to win the 3-year-old male division title.

  4. Hi Calvin, the colt won quite easy and now the discussion for the Breeders Cup Classic.
    (DRF Commentary)
    "With that information in mind, British bookmakers Coral have installed Sea the Stars as their 4-5 favorite for the Classic, precisely the price he returned in the Arc.

    It is simplt to BAD Rachel is not running. The Breeders Cup Classic would be the Greatest three year old race of the Decade.

    Rachel Alexander
    Sea The Stars
    Summer Bird
    Regal Ransom
    Mine That Bird
    Quality Road

  5. Barry..
    ah, Don't forget to add Zenyatta as a possible mix in that field of yours! Smmile!

    SR Vegas

  6. Barry, SR Vegas,

    With the influx of European horses coming to America, this year's Breeders' Cup races should be exciting, indeed.


    Tell the back easterners how good the west can be. Breeders Cup in my book, is the only latch pin besides the Kentucky Derby that is holding the north america thoroughbred industry together.

    Someone should inform Jess why it more then just his opinion thats on the line.

    I wonder if Jess is personally boycotting the track as well? I know Jess received excellent accommodation last year and is on the mailing list this year.

    Should not Jess be there to support the industry as an owner? I wonder how Jess could sit in the stands and watch the rest of the world enjoy the moment?

    This event is not just for Santa Anita, but the Breeders cup committee as well and if Jess shuns the committee, should he receive excellent accommodation for NEXT YEAR ?

    I believe in paying a hypocrite what a hypocrite suppose to get. CHANGE!

    I bet he was at the Horse of The Year banquet last year held in Beverly Hills California.

    The wine was extremely good, served in fine crystal glasses.

    Misdirected individual! Lol!

  8. Barry,

    It definitely would be a plus for the Breeders' Cup if Rachel Alexandra was in the race.

    Jess Jackson has his reasons for not sending her and I'm sure in his mind, they are valid. Even though I and other racing fans may not understand his reasoning.

  9. Maybe the NYRA should check his BLOOD for Lasix. Lol!

    There has to be something in there. Some how the mind has been affected.

    Add the BLINKERS and the shadow role then LOAD THE SUCKER!

    We want a race into HISTORY. Lol!