The late sportswriter and commentator Heywood Hale Broun once told the story of how golfing great Jack Nicklaus was moved to tears while watching Secretariat's 31-length victory in the 1973 Belmont Stakes—a performance that embodied the perfection that Nicklaus had sought for himself in his own sport.
I daresay more than a few people were moved to tears on Sunday—the 20th anniversary of Secretariat's death–while watching Sea the Stars run away to an impressive victory in the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in Paris, France, the 3-year-old colt's eighth victory in nine career starts. This son of the Green Desert stallion Cape Cross out of Arc winner and outstanding producer Urban Sea, by Miswaki, demonstrated for all the world why many are calling him the finest racehorse trained in Ireland since Nijinsky II and the best Thoroughbred seen anywhere in decades. He beat an outstanding field in the Arc, was over-eager in the early going of the mile and a half race, had to overcome traffic difficulties, and then simply outclassed his opposition with a tremendous burst of acceleration under jockey Mick Kinane.
He is what a great Thoroughbred racehorse is all about.
If Sea the Stars races again, it would be the gravy on a magnificent feast, for the Christopher Tsui-owned, John Oxx-trained superstar has done more than enough to warrant all the accolades deserving of a true world champion. He's now won his sixth consecutive European Group 1 race, beginning with the Two Thousand Guineas in May, then moving on to the Investec Epsom Derby in June, the Coral Eclipse in July, the Juddmonte International in August, and the Tattersalls Millions Irish Champion in September. His dam, Urban Sea, who died earlier this year, won the 1993 Arc de Triomphe, and she became just the second broodmare to produce two Epsom Derby winners (her first was 2001 winner Galileo). Sea the Stars will be the most sought-after stallion prospect in many years, despite the depressed market in the breeding business.
He's “the nearest living thing to a machine,” trainer Oxx said after Sea the Stars won the Irish Champion Stakes last month. “If any of us is still around at the end of the century, I doubt there will be too many other horses who have achieved what he has done.”
All of us are in the habit of letting our hopes get too high when a horse of this type comes along. They aren't machines, and nearly all of them are susceptible to nagging injuries, bad luck, or simply having a bad day. Sea the Stars has avoided those pitfalls. He's never let us down.
He may very well be the horse of a lifetime, the kind every breeder dreams of producing, every owner dreams of owning, every trainer wants to put his hands on, and every racing fan can believe in.
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