08/17/2009 12:00AM

Sea the Stars tries to stay on top

Edward Whitaker/Racing Post
Sea the Stars (left) beats Rip Van Winkle in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown last month, a victory that followed his triumphs in the 2000 Guineas and Epsom Derby.

Trainer John Oxx is keeping his fingers crossed in hopes that the weather will remain dry at York so Sea the Stars will be able to take his place in the $992,000 Juddmonte International Stakes on Tuesday. The world's highest rated horse, Sea the Stars will run in the 1 1/4-mile, 88-yard, Group 1 test only if the going is good or better.

Only light showers were predicted for the weekend, with sunny skies forecast for Monday and Tuesday, so Sea the Stars, winner of the 2000 Guineas, Epsom Derby, and Eclipse Stakes, should make it into the gate. Oxx, who describes Sea the Stars as a horse "you hope and dream of all your life," will give a leg up to Michael Kinane, who has ridden Sea the Stars in all six of his races.

Sea the Stars, a son of Cape Cross and Urban Sea, will face no more than five rivals. Perhaps his most dangerous foe is, like himself, a 3 year-old.

Mastercraftsman, as low as 13-8 with some bookmakers, will be making his first start beyond a mile for trainer Aidan O'Brien. A Danehill Dancer colt, he finished fifth, 4 1/4 lengths behind Sea the Stars, in the 2000 Guineas but has since won both the Irish 2000 Guineas on heavy ground and the St. James's Palace Stakes on good to firm ground. Out of a mare by Breeders' Cup Classic winner Black Tie Affair, Mastercraftsman will try to stretch his stamina with the help of Johnny Murtagh.

The best older horse in the race is the Michael Stoute-trained Tartan Bearer. A course-and-distance winner at 3 in the Group 2 Dante Stakes, this Spectrum 4-year-old was a sharp second to Vision d'Etat in the 1 1/4-mile Prince of Wales's Stakes before another runner-up finish behind Conduit in the 1 1/2-mile King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Never worse than third in eight career starts, Tartan Bearer, value in the antepost market at 6-1, could be staying on as Mastercraftsman begins to fade. Ryan Moore has the ride.

Forgotten Voice, fourth in Rip Van Winkle's one-mile Sussex Stakes, has little chance in this company, while either Georgebernardshaw or Set Sail would be employed by O'Brien as a rabbit for Mastercraftsman.

* In the Group 2, $231,000 Great Voltigeur Stakes, Harbinger will attempt a repeat of his impressive victory in Goodwood's Group 3 Gordon Stakes over the same 1 1/2-mile distance. Stoute is using the Great Voltigeur to determine whether or not Harbinger will go in the classic St. Leger Stakes at Doncaster on Sept. 12, but the Henry Cecil-trained winner of the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes, Father Time, could be good enough to foil those plans. Both are sons of Dansili, better known as a sire of milers than of St. Leger candidates.