Sea The Stars confirmed his class with another stellar performance in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes (Eng-I) at Sandown July 4. The 3-year-old colt held off rival Rip Van Winkle by one length, becoming the first horse since Nashwan in 1989 to complete the Guineas-Derby-Eclipse treble.
Withdrawn from the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (Ire-I) last week due to the soft ground, Sea The Stars was re-routed to the Coral-Eclipse by trainer John Oxx. The Irishman was confident his charge would not only be up to the task of taking on older horses for the first time, but also shortening up in distance.
Settled comfortably into fifth place by jockey Mick Kinane, Sea The Stars, the 4-7 starting favorite, was content to rate off of the brisk pace set by the front-running Lang Shining and Set Sail. Jimmy Fortune, who was subbing for the suspended Johnny Murtagh, tracked that pair on Rip Van Winkle, while Ryan Moore sat last aboard Conduit.
Sea The Stars took command two furlongs from home, with Rip Van Winkle in hot pursuit. Moore had Conduit on the move as well, and the 2008 Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) hero loomed dangerously on the far outside.
Conduit, who was making just his second start of the year, struggled to get on even terms with the two leaders, however, and began to flatten out in the final furlong. The two younger colts drew away from the rest of the field, with Sea The Stars holding off Rip Van Winkle with something to spare.
Conduit held on well for third, 4 1/2 lengths further back. Final time for the 10 furlongs was 2:03.40 over a course rated as good.
Oxx was delighted after the race, telling reporters, “This is what keeps you working. For 19 days out of 20, when you say ‘what are you wasting your time for training racehorses when you can do something easier,’ these are the moments that keep you going.”
“We’ll have to have a think about where he goes next,” Oxx continued. “The Irish Champion Stakes (Ire-I) at Leopardstown (Sept. 5) would be a major objective for him and we have to figure out what we are going to do in the meantime.”
The victory in the Coral-Eclipse was the fifth win in six career starts for the son of Cape Cross. Sea The Stars was bred in Ireland by Sunderland Holdings, and is owned by 27-year-old Christopher Tsui, a night club owner from Hong Kong. David Tsui, Christopher’s father, campaigned Sea The Stars’ dam, Urban Sea, throughout her career.
The daughter of Miswaki was not only a multiple group I winner on the racecourse, but also was a tremendous broodmare, producing group I/grade I winners Galileo, Black Sam Bellamy and My Typhoon.
According to The Associated Press, the younger Tsui fainted shortly after the colt won, but he recovered in time to collect the winning trophy and celebrate with Kinane.
"There will be more to come as he will get better as he matures," Kinane said. "He is so quick out of the stalls with his pace, and it was almost as if I hit the front too soon, but it was hard for me to stop him."
Sea The Stars won the Derby (Eng-I) on June 6 with a 1 3/4-length victory over Fame And Glory, after taking the Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) on May 2 ahead of Delegator. No horse since Nashwan had even completed that double.