07/03/2009 11:00PM

Sea the Stars beats older horses in Eclipse

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Edward Whitaker/Racing Post
Sea the Stars holds off Rip Van Winkle to win the Grade 1 Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park on Saturday.

Sea the Stars completed a extraordinary triple at Sandown Park on Saturday with a comprehensive victory in the $823,000 Eclipse Stakes as he repelled the late challenge of Rip Van Winkle, leaving Breeders' Cup Turf winner Conduit a well beaten third in the 1 1/4-mile Group 1 test, the first major inter-generational conflict of the year. His performance was so exciting, winning owner Christopher Tsui fainted in the winner's circle.

Sea the Stars thus becomes the first horse since Nashwan in 1989 to pull off the 2000 Guineas/Epsom Derby/Eclipse triple. By Cape Cross out of Arc winner Urban Sea, Sea the Stars ranks with Dubai Millennium and Peintre Celebre as the best European horses of recent years.

Michael Kinane was content to keep Sea the Stars tucked away on the rail in fifth some 10 lengths behind the pacestting Lang Shining, who was doing the doggy work for stablemate Conduit. Jimmy Fortune had Rip Van Winkle just behind 4-7 favorite Sea the Stars with Conduit allowed to trail the 10-runner field under Ryan Moore.

Sea the Stars angled out at the three-eighths pole and cruised to the lead at the quarter pole. Asked for more, he produced it and when Rip Van Winkle made a bold move approaching the furlong marker, Sea the Stars found something extra to go clear of Rip Van Winkle, the Guineas and Derby fourth who ran somewhat erratically through the late stretch.

Sea the Stars ultimately prevailed by a safe length with Breeders' Cup Turf winner Conduit 4 1/2 lengths behind in third and Cima de Triomphe fourth, five lengths further back. The time for the 10 furlongs on ground termed good, good to firm in places, was 2:03.40, or 1.3 seconds off Kalaglow's 1982 course mark.

Winning Group 1 races at a mile, 1 1/2 miles and 1 1/4 miles in that order is a rare achievement. A half-brother to Epsom and Irish Derby winner Galileo, Sea the Stars should be well up to the ambitious campaign being mapped out for him by trainer John Oxx. He will have one more race before the 1 1/4-mile Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Sept. 5. That race is likely to be either the 1 1/2-mile King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on July 25 or the 1 1/4-mile, 88 yard Juddmonte International at York on Aug. 18. His ultimate goal remains the Oct. 4 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, for which he is the 7-2 favorite with most bookmakers.

Donativum wins as Goldolphin heats up

Donativum returned to the winner's circle for the first time since his victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf when he took the listed one-mile Prix de Saint-Patrick at Deauville on Saturday. It was the second listed score in two days for Godolphin as Kirklees had taken Sandown's Gala Stakes on Friday, suuggesting that Sheikh Mohammed's boys in blue are emerging from their season-long slump. In an effort to improve on their mere two Group 2 victories in Europe and America thus far this year, Godolphin purchased 2000 Guineas and St. James's Palace Stakes runner-up Delegator on Friday, just days after having bought Queen Mary Stakes winner Jealous Again.