Tuesday, October 13, 2009

No great surprise: Sea The Stars retired

His connections at one point had said chances were "50-50" that the certain European champion, recent Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Sea The Stars, would run in next month's Breeders' Cup Classic in the United States.

But I'm unsurprised at Tuesday's news that the 3-year-old Cape Cross colt has been retired. In fact, through absolutely no particular genius or prescience, I had predicted it.

I'd have to say that owner Christopher Tsui and trainer John Oxx have made the right choice for the horse. By European standards, there was nothing left for him to do. And American sentiments and standards really weren't relevant since Sea The Stars is almost certain to land at stud next spring in Ireland.

After losing in his debut at age 2 -- fourth under a blanket, in an 18-horse field, to three future graded-stakes horses -- Sea The Stars never lost again in eight more starts. All six of his races at age 3 were Group 1 stakes, and of course he won them. That included an historically unprecedented annexation of the English Derby-Guineas "double" plus the Arc.

While not at all surprised, I cannot say that I take the news of his retirement without disappointment. I wanted to witness Sea The Stars on the track at age 4. Might he have been even better? Of course, beyond the prospect of catastrophic injury, his connections had to consider that the horse might've come back to the field a bit and found a way to lose a few. Having won the very biggest races in England, Ireland and France, it's difficult to imagine that much of any win streak continued into -- or all the way through -- 2010, would have elevated his stud fee significantly.

Under the circumstances, retirement almost certainly is the best business decision for the Mr. Tsui and the best decision in the interests of the horse, if not the ideal outcome for fans.

So if you do desire to watch Sea The Stars perform at age 4, you now must be prepared to hand over a very serious, albeit as yet unannounced, price of admission.

And bring an approved mare.

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