05/02/2009 12:00AM

Sea the Stars pulls clear in 2000 Guineas


Sea the Stars outgamed Delegator in the $577,000 2000 Guineas Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday to establish himself as the leading 3-year-old in Europe while taking on the favorite's mantle for the Epsom Derby.

Never worse than fifth, the 8-1 Sea the Stars raced on the stands side of the 15-runner field, while the 3-1 favorite Delegator was cruising along a little further back on the opposite side. Approaching the furlong marker, they engaged in battle, with Delegator holding a slight advantage under Jamie Spencer, only to be worn down by Michael Kinane and Sea the Stars, who crossed the line 1 1/2 lengths to the good. Gan Amhras was three-quarters of a length away in third, with the Aidan O'Brien-trained Rip Van Winkle fourth, another neck back. Rip Van Winkle's stablemate, Mastercraftsman, was fifth. The 16-1 Ashram, with Frankie Dettori aboard, came home a dull 13th for Godolphin, 18 lengths behind the winner. The time for the straight and undulating mile on good to firm ground was 1:35.88, the second fastest time in the last 14 runnings of the race.

Owned by Hong Kong businessman Christopher Tsui, Sea the Stars was running for the first time since having taken the one-mile, Group 2 Beresford Stakes at the Curragh on Sept. 28. Trainer John Oxx had him fit as a fiddle for the Guineas, and he had to be as the in-form Delegator was coming off an impressive score in the Group 3 Craven Stakes over the Guineas course and distance on April 16.

In victory, Sea the Stars was adding luster to the glittering resume of his recently deceased dam, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Urban Sea. Bred in Ireland by David Tsui's Sunderland Holdings, the Cape Cross colt is a half-brother to Epsom Derby winner Galileo, Group 1 1 1 /2-mile winner Black Sam Bellamy, to multiple graded stakes winner My Typhoon, and to two fillies who placed in the English Oaks, All Too Beautiful and Melikah.

The 12 furlongs of the Epsom Derby on June 6 would appear to be well within Sea the Star's range. Ladbrokes has cut him to 5-2 favoritism for the Epsom classic, with the J. Paul Reddam-owned Crowded House, who will have his Derby prep in the Dante Stakes at York on May 14, now second favorite at 5-1.