Sea Hero, winner of the 1993 Kentucky Derby, has died in Turkey from the infirmities of old age, according to a report from the Turkish Jockey Club. He was the oldest living Kentucky Derby winner at 29 years old.
Born in Virginia the son of Polish Navy raced as a homebred for Paul Mellon's Rokeby Stables and for trainer Mack Miller. He broke his maiden in his fourth career start, which kicked off a three-race winning streak that culminated with a 5 3/4-length score in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes.
Sea Hero wouldn't win again until the Kentucky Derby, seven months and five starts later. Before venturing to Churchill Downs, the colt finished ninth in the G3 Palm Beach Stakes, third in a Gulfstream Park allowance, and fourth in the G2 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.
Sea Hero left the gate in the Kentucky Derby at odds of 12-1, looking up at favorite Prairie Bayou, whom he finished 2 3/4 lengths behind in the Blue Grass Stakes. After settling mid-pack, a bold move through traffic in the final turn by jockey Jerry Bailey put Sea Hero in position to contend on the rail at the top of the stretch. Together, they took the inside path to blow by leader Personal Hope and outkicked a late cavalry charge by a trio of horses to finish 2 1/2 lengths ahead of Prairie Bayou.
Prairie Bayou got his revenge in the Preakness Stakes, with Sea Hero finishing off the board. Sea Hero was again out of the money behind winner Colonial Affair in the Belmont Stakes, but he righted the ship later in the year to win the G1 Travers Stakes.
After winning his seasonal bow at age four, a Belmont Park allowance, Sea Hero went winless for the remainder of what was an ambitious campaign. He tried the turf for the first time in his second start of the year, another Belmont allowance, running second by a neck. Then, Sea Hero ran third on the main track in the G2 Brooklyn Handicap before returning to the grass to finish second in the G2 Bowling Green Handicap.
Sea Hero retired at the end of the 1994 racing season with six wins in 24 starts for earnings of $2,929,869.
He entered stud at Lane's End in Versailles, Ky., where he resided from 1995 to 1999. His most notable domestic runners include Grade 1 winner Cindys Hero and Grade 2 winners Heros Tribute and Desert Hero.
Sea Hero was then purchased by the Turkish Jockey Club and exported to Karacabey Pension Stud for the 2000 season. He excelled in his new surroundings, siring Group 1 winner Confidence among many other group stakes winners, until he was pensioned in 2016.
His contributions as a broodmare sire include multiple Grade 3 winner Falling Sky, out of the stakes-placed Sea Dragoness.
Sea Hero has been immortalized with a life-sized statue in the paddock of Saratoga Race Course, as well as a bronze statue at the National Sporting Library in his native Virginia.
With the passing of Sea Hero, the oldest living Kentucky Derby winner is now Go For Gin, a 28-year-old who won the race in 1994 and now resides as a pensioner at the Kentucky Horse Park's Hall of Champions in Lexington, Ky.
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