Who said it’s difficult to breed a classic winner?

It used to be said that the fittest horse wins the Guineas, the luckiest horse wins the Derby and the best horse wins the St Leger. Whatever about being the fittest, Sea the Stars was the best bred horse in the Guineas field coming from a truly outstanding female line that produce top racehorses with remarkable regularity.  This was not rags to riches but untold riches to further riches.

Sea the Stars is the remarkable fourth Group 1 winner produced by surprise Prix de l’Arc winner Urban Sea. At the time of her conception she would have been described as having an unremarkable pedigree but all has changed utterly in the past two decades. Her dam Allegretta was a German bred who finished second in the Group 3 Lingfield Oaks Trial. Allegretta comes from an unfamiliar background being by Lombard who won a German 2000 Guineas and German St Leger among 20 races over five seasons.  Allegretta’s brother Anno ended up being rated champion three year old in Germany in 1982, winning the German St Leger but in recent years the success has moved to a different level.

Allegretta must be almost unique as being the dam and granddam of a 2000 Guineas winner for she was the dam of King’s Best who comprehensively defeated Giant’s Causeway in the 2000 Guineas of the year 2000.  Her Prix Flore winning Riverman daughter Allez Les Trois became the dam of Anabaa Blue who won the 2001 Prix de Jockey Club (back in the good old days when it was over 12 furlongs). Allez les Trois is also granddam of Tamayuz who was an outstanding miler last year winning the Prix Jean Prat and Jacque le Marois and is now at stud in Derrinstown. Allegretta is also grandam of Anzillero (by Law Society) who was a 12 furlong Group 1 winner at Dusseldorf in 2001.  Urban Sea was similar to Kings Best in producing one outstanding performance (in her case the Arc, in his the Guineas) but at stud she has been remarkably consistent.

Her first foal was the lazily named Urban Ocean who won the Gallinule Stakes for Aidan O’Brien. He subsequently lost his form but he is now operating as a National Hunt stallion.

Her next mate was the newly retired Lammtarra, who had just completed a scintillating career winning a Derby, King George and Prix de l’Arc. The filly called Melikah was unraced at two and her entire career encompassed only 4 races. She won the Pretty Polly stakes before finishing third in the Oaks to Love Divine and then second in the Irish Oaks. At stud she is the dam of 2 winners including Valedictory (by Dubai Destination) who was very impressive in winning his sole start last year at Saint Cloud and who could yet add further lustre to the family.

Urban Sea then made four consecutive visits to Sadler’s Wells. The results were outstanding, headlined by the outstanding Derby winner and now outstanding sire Galileo. His younger sibling Black Sam Bellamy was Group one placed at two, won the Group 1 Gran Premio del Jockey Club at three at looked a star in the making when winning the Tattersalls Rogers Gold Cup at 4. He then ran well in the Coronation Cup but failed to shine in his subsequent outings. He retired to stud in Germany and although there was some promise in initial results he was brought back to Shade Oak Stud in the UK where he will fulfill a dual purpose role. The third foal Atticus was unraced but the next foal All Too Beautiful won her first two races before finishing runner-up to Ouija Board in the 2004 Oaks.  In one of those neat twists of fate it was that winning performance of Ouija Board that was almost certainly the inspiration for the mating with Cape Cross. Ouija Board added an Irish Oaks and a Breeders Cup Fillies and Mare Turf to her haul that year and although there were other stakes winners from that first crop, it was Ouija Board who propelled Cape Cross to the top table.

Urban Sea was then sent to another hot freshman sire in Giant’s Causeway. Their filly foal My Typhoon was sold for a record 1.8 million guineas and although she was never going to earn that amount on the track she managed 4 stakes wins including a Grade 1 as a five year old.

Urban Sea paid two visits to Cape Cross’s sire Green Desert with slightly disappointing results.  Her 2004 filly Cherry Hinton retired a maiden but she did finish second in the Group 3 Blue Wind Stakes and ran a creditable fifth to Light Shift in the Oaks. Still at least she made the track unlike Sea’s Legacy who was unraced for John Oxx. Sea’s Legacy was sold for 10,000 Guineas at last years Tattersalls October Sales. It would be no surprise to see him appear as a stallion somewhere in the near future.

That leads us to Sea the Stars. As already mentioned he is a product of the better mares received by Cape Cross post Ouija Board. Cape Cross has lacked a follow up superstar in Europe but did enough with decent performers such as Rising Cross, Sabina Perdida, Halicarnassus and others to remind us that he was a more than capable sire. Many of his progeny stay better than he did and they generally prefer good or better ground. His record will improve as the offspring of the better mares he received over the last few years come on stream. Although Cape Cross was a miler the aformentioned Ouija Board (broodmare sire Welsh Pageant) won an Oaks and Rising Cross (broodmare sire Nomination) was placed in an Oaks. These give hope that Sea the Stars can follow his many siblings who all stayed middle distances well. He is around 4-1 for Epsom which is a fair price as he showed such class at Newmarket that if he stays he wins. The Guineas Derby double has not been done since Nashwan in 1989 but Galileo’s son New Approach came within a nostril of achieving it last year.


Normally we tend to focus on the stallion and assume that he is at least 50% responsible for the ability of the offspring.  However in the case of Sea the Stars and with no disrespect to Cape Cross (whom I like as a stallion) this success was all about the dam.  Looking at this female line it makes you question how much we really know about genetics and how many of our assumptions are incorrect. Urban Sea has produced top performers to a variety of stallions even as she aged. Her dam Allegretta has seem her influence on the stud book grow dramatically and even her grandson Anzillero (who is by Law Society out of a Plugged Nickel mare) has rightfully earned his place at stud.   We might have to wait a few years for science to unravel some of the mysteries of hereditary but it only took 24 hours for another reminder of the power of certain female families. The  1000 Guineas was won by Ghanaati a descendant of Highclere and as remarkable a producer as Allegretta, of which more anon.


Urban Sea’s Foals of Racing Age

Name Foaled sex Sire Best Result
Urban Ocean 1996 c Bering Gr3 winner (Gallinule Stakes)
Melikah 1997 f Lammtarra 2nd Irish Oaks, 3rd Oaks
Galileo 1998 c Sadler’s Wells Grp 1 winner Derby,Irish Derby, King George
Black Sam Bellamy 1999 c Sadler’s Wells grp 1 winner*2 incl Tattersalls Rogers Gold Cup
Atticus 2000 c Sadler’s Wells unraced
All too Beautiful 2001 f Sadler’s Wells 2nd Oaks
My Typhoon 2002 f Giants Causeway Grade 1 winner
Cherry Hinton 2004 f Green Desert 5th Oaks, 2nd Gr 3
Sea’s Legacy 2005 c Green Desert unraced
Sea the Stars 2006 c Cape Cross 2000 Guineas winner


SEA THE STARS (IRE) 2006 c b

Cross (IRE) 1994
Desert (USA) 1983
(USA) 1977
Dancer (CAN) 1961
De Nom (USA) 1968
Courier (USA) 1979
Ivor (USA) 1965
Dee (USA) 1968
Appeal (IRE) 1982
(GB) 1975
(IRE) 1965
Nichols (GB) 1966
(IRE) 1973
(IRE) 1966
(GB) 1968
Sea (USA) 1989
(USA) 1978
Prospector (USA) 1970
A Native (USA) 1961
Digger (USA) 1962
(USA) 1971
(USA) 1963
Bower (USA) 1958
(GB) 1978
(GER) 1967
(GER) 1955
Lady (GB) 1961
(GER) 1969
(USA) 1958
(GER) 1962