09/05/2014 2:38PM

Sea the Moon using von Baden as Arc prep

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Unbeaten and untested in four starts, Germany’s best horse since Danedream, and the summer favorite to follow in Danedream’s footsteps and win the Prix de l’Arc d’Triomphe, Sea the Moon makes a greatly anticipated return to the races Sunday at Baden-Baden in the Group 1, $325,000 Grosser Preis von Baden.

Sea the Moon is one of 11 horses entered in the 1 1/2-mile von Baden, which is expected to be contested over good going and is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Win and You’re In race, its winner gaining automatic entry and a fees-paid trip to Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup Turf. The BC Turf has not been mentioned yet as a possible objective for Sea the Moon, whose main goal is winning the Arc, with Sunday’s race as a steppingstone.

Despite this race being a prep, Sea the Moon will be heavily favored and seriously formidable. From the first crop of the acclaimed Sea the Stars, Sea the Moon was bred and is owned by Gestut Gorlsdorf, who purchased Sea the Moon’s dam, Sanwa, carrying Sea the Moon in foal. Trained by Markus Klug, Sea the Moon started once last year at 2, winning a maiden race by four lengths, and he is perfect in three races this year.

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The performance that suggested that Sea the Moon might be something more than merely a very good horse was the July 6 German Derby. There, Sea the Moon went to the front, made the pace, crossed over to race alone on one side of the course while the rest of the field ran on the other, and absolutely destroyed a competent group in Germany’s premier 3-year-old race. Despite being geared down in the final furlong, Sea the Moon won by 11 lengths, and the second-place finisher, Lucky Lion, returned to beat Juddmonte Farms’s high-class Noble Mission in the Group 1 Grosser Dallmayr-Preis Bayerisches Zuchtrennen on July 27.

Lucky Lion is back for another try Sunday, but if Sea the Moon holds form, the race – as in the German Derby – will be for second. Christophe Soumillon rode Sea the Moon in the German Derby, but as the contract rider for the Aga Khan, he is obligated to ride a horse in France on Sunday, giving the mount to the young Italian rider Cristian Demuro. Demuro and Soumillon share the same agent, and Soumillon remains hopeful of riding Sea the Moon in the Arc if all goes well with the colt.

Post time for the von Baden is set for 10:50 a.m. Eastern.