08/17/2009 11:00PM

Sea the Stars cruises at York


Sea the Stars got the job done at the business end of Tuesday's $980,000 Juddmonte International Stakes at York as he ran down the classy miler Mastercraftsman in the 1 1/4-mile, 88-yard Group 1 event. The race, however, was strictly a tactical affair as the withdrawal on Monday of Tartan Bearer due to lameness reduced the field to just four: Sea the Stars and Mastercraftsman plus a pair of outclassed Aidan O'Brien-employed pacesetters for Mastercraftsman.

Michael Kinane took the 1-4 Sea the Stars to the back of the pack as Georgebernardshaw led Set Sails through a fast early pace with the 3-1 Mastercraftsman third. When the leaders began to falter shortly after entering the half-mile stretch, Johnny Murtagh knifed Mastercraftsman between his stablemates to lead approaching the quarter-pole with Sea the Stars close behind. For a moment it looked as if the heavy favorite was stuck in second gear, but he quickened late to catch Mastercraftsman, the Irish 2000 Guineas and St. James's Palace Stakes winner, for a rather comfortable one-length victory.

Sea the Stars's winning time of 2:05.29 on good to firm ground cut an astonishing 0.8 of a second off the track record set by Imperial Stride in 2005, an even more remarkable feat when one considers that this race has been won by Falbrav, Sakhee, Giant's Causeway, Triptych, Caerleon, Dahlia, and Roberto.

In adding the Juddmonte to his 2000 Guineas, Epsom Derby, and Eclipse Stakes triumphs, Sea the Stars retains his position as the world's most accomplished racehorse. His next start will be on Sept. 5 at Leopardstown in the 1 1/4-mile Irish Champion Stakes, "so long as the ground is quick," according to trainer John Oxx.

Monitor Closely upsets Great Voltigeur

Earlier, Monitor Closely scored a 28-1 surprise in the Group 2, $228,000 Great Voltigeur Stakes, leading throughout under Jimmy Fortune to defeat Godolphin's Italian Derby winner Mastery by 4 1/2 lengths.

A mere maiden winner in eight previous starts, the Peter Chapple-Hyam-trained Monitor Closely is yet another son of sprint champion Oasis Dream who can stay middle distances. And this was a sterling renewal of a key St. Leger Stakes prep, as Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes winner Father Time was third, Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes winner Jukebox Jury fourth, Group 3 Sandown Classic Trial winner Above Average fifth, and Group 3 Gordon Stakes winner and 13-8 favorite Harbinger a tailed-off seventh and last.

The time for the 1 1/2 miles was 2:29.50.

Sariska looks to bag another Oaks

Day 3 of York's four-day Ebor Meeting on Thursday is highlighted by the appearance of dual Oaks winner Sariska in the $506,000 Yorkshire Oaks, a Group 1 for fillies and mares at 1 1/2 miles. A Michael Bell-trained daughter of Pivotal, Sariska has already won both the English and Irish Oaks at the Yorkshire distance, beating subsequent Group 1 Nassau Stakes winner Midday in both instances. Jamie Spencer will once again be aboard.

Dar Re Mi clinched a spot in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf with her victory in the 1 1/4-mile, Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh on June 27. Trained by John Gosden for composer Andrew Lloyd-Webber, the Singspiel 4-year-old was second to Lush Lashes in this race last year before filling the same place at the distance behind Zarkava in the Prix Vermeille. Jimmy Fortune has the ride.

The David Elsworth-trained Group 2 Lancashire Oaks winner Barshiba was only fourth in the Nassau, so Tamarind, who won the 1 1/2-mile, Group 3 Give Thanks Stakes for Aidan O'Brien in just her fourth career start, looms a bigger threat to the two favorites.