By Andrew Caulfield
I doubt whether anyone really needs a reminder of the long-term impact being made by Urban Sea, the 1993 Arc winner who developed into one of the breed’s most accomplished broodmares. But if you do, take a look at the TDN’s Leading Sires List, by Group 1 stakes winners.
Top of the list, with seven Group 1 winners, is Galileo, Urban Sea’s first winner of the Derby, while third place, with four Group 1 winners, belongs to Sea The Stars, Urban Sea’s second Derby winner who was responsible for Saturday’s gallant Irish Oaks winner Star Catcher. For good measure, Galileo’s son Frankel is one of three stallions tied with three Group 1 winners.
The weekend also provided some more black-type for the wonderful Urban Sea/Allegretta female line, with second place in the G2 Kilboy Estates S. going to Urban Sea’s granddaughter Goddess, and victory in the G3 Prix Messidor going to New Approach’s gelded son Impulsif, who is inbred 4 x 3 to Allegretta via her daughters Urban Sea and Allez Les Trois. Incidentally, the recently-retired Derby winner Masar is another son of New Approach with two lines of Allegretta, but in his case both come via Urban Sea.
Of course the year could become even better for Sea The Stars on Saturday, when another of his 2019 Group 1 winners, the Prince of Wales’s S. winner Crystal Ocean, is likely to start second favourite to Enable in the King George. Then there’s the dual Gold Cup hero Stradivarius to look forward to, when he bids for a third consecutive Goodwood Cup success. For the record, Sea The Stars’s other 2019 Group 1 winner was the ex-English stayer Shraaoh, who collected a huge prize when he took the Sydney Cup over two miles in April.
Sea The Stars now has an impressive total of 12 Group 1 winners from his first six crops aged three or over. They have 10 different broodmare sires, the only stallions to appear twice being Kingmambo, whose daughters produced the French-based stallions Cloth of Stars and Zelzal, and Monsun, whose daughters got off to a great start with the Deutsches Derby winner Sea The Moon and followed up with Shraaoh.
Sadler’s Wells, who is the broodmare sire of the Oaks and King George winner Taghrooda, has a solid record with Sea The Stars, as his daughters’ 62 foals include nearly 10% black-type winners. Among them are the Group 2 winners Knight To Behold, Storm The Stars, Fifty Stars and Raa Atoll, the listed winner Crimean Tatar and the Group 1-placed Almodovar and Fox Tal.
This is relevant to the Irish Oaks winner Star Catcher, as her dam, the highly accomplished Lynnwood Chase, is a granddaughter of Sadler’s Wells’s Grand Prix de Paris-winning son Fort Wood.
Lynnwood Chase was bought as a yearling by Hugo Lascelles on behalf of the Oppenheimer family for €140,000 at Deauville in 2003. I am guessing that part of her appeal was that she was a daughter of Horse Chestnut, the South African star who was bred and raced by Harry F. Oppenheimer (a cousin of Anthony Oppenheimer’s father Sir Philip.)
Sentiment wouldn’t have been the only incentive for wanting to buy a first-crop daughter of Horse Chestnut. A winner over five and six furlongs as a juvenile, Horse Chestnut proceeded to win all six of his starts as a 3-year-old, enjoying wide-margin Grade 1 successes in the Cape Argus Guineas, the South African Derby, The Classic and the J & B Met, in the process proving himself effective from a mile to a mile and a half.
His outstanding talent persuaded his owners to transfer him to the U.S. He was again impressive when he made his American debut in the GIII Broward H. over 1 1/16 miles on dirt at Gulfstream Park in January 2000, scoring by more than five lengths. Unfortunately, an injury in a workout ended his career just a couple of weeks later.
He immediately joined the Claiborne Farm roster but even a farm as celebrated as Claiborne, whose reputation owed a lot to imported stallions, faced an uphill struggle with Horse Chestnut in the early noughties. Whereas the Argentine-bred Forli had been one of several imports on the Claiborne roster when he retired in 1968, Horse Chestnut was the only foreigner among the team in 2000–at a time when American breeders were becoming increasingly wary of turf horses. By March 2009 Horse Chestnut was on his way back to his native South Africa, leaving just five graded stakes winners behind him, headed by the Grade I-winning turf filly Lucifer’s Stone.
Lynnwood Chase did nothing to boost Horse Chestnut’s reputation, finishing no closer than fourth in a two-race career in France. However, she followed in the footsteps of several other daughters of Horse Chestnut in proving much more effective as a broodmare, at Hascombe and Valiant Studs.
When Star Catcher gained the first of her two victories over Fleeting in the G2 Ribblesdale S., she became the third of Lynnwood Chase’s foals to succeed in a group race at Royal Ascot, following the brothers Pisco Sour and Cannock Chase, winners respectively of the G3 Tercentenary S. in 2011 and 2014. Like their younger half-sister, both these sons of Lemon Drop Kid went on to enjoy a more important success, with Pisco Sour taking the G2 Prix Eugene Adam and Cannock Chase the GI Canadian International.
Lynnwood Chase had begun her broodmare career in Kentucky, where she made repeated visits to the Belmont S. winner Lemon Drop Kid. However, she had been transferred to England by the time she foaled the last of the partnership’s five foals, in 2014. In her time in Europe she produced three consecutive fillies, to Sea The Stars, Kingman and Frankel, and then her owners gave a vote of confidence in the National Stud’s Time Test, to whom she produced a colt on Mar. 31. Sadly the mare has since died, at the age of 17.
Lynnwood Chase’s progeny are by no means the family’s only Royal Ascot winners. Star Catcher’s fourth dam, the Habitat mare Bitty Girl, won her first five starts over five furlongs, including the Queen Mary S. and Lowther S. back in 1973. Bitty Girl’s brother Hot Spark was also very fast, as he demonstrated with his wins in the G1 Flying Childers S. and G3 Palace House S. He was also second in the G1 King’s Stand S., just as Bitty Girl had been a year earlier.
Bitty Girl also ranks as the third dam of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Action This Day, fourth dam of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Drefong and fifth dam of Kentucky Derby and Preakness runner-up Bodemeister.