Bloodlines: How Urban Sea Laid Out The Roadmap For Coolmore's Racing, Breeding Programs - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Bloodlines: How Urban Sea Laid Out The Roadmap For Coolmore’s Racing, Breeding Programs

Urban Sea won the Arc de Triomphe

The top events at Epsom Downs produced three outstanding performances, with Auguste Rodin (by Deep Impact) winning the Group 1 Derby with a powerful performance, Soul Sister (Frankel) taking the Oaks, and Emily Upjohn (Sea the Stars) defeating colts in the Coronation Cup.

Of the three, Auguste Rodin drew the most praise and commentary by the reversal of his form after an eventful run in the 2,000 Guineas last month at Newmarket, where he finished a very disappointing 12th.

Bred by Coolmore and racing for Tabor, Smith, Magnier, and Westerberg, Auguste Rodin is simply the latest evidence that Coolmore is the mightiest breeding operation in the land. It has benefited immensely by standing the greatest European sires of our time, Sadler's Wells (Northern Dancer) and his son Galileo, as well as Sadler's Wells's other superb sire son Montjeu and Danehill (Danzig).

All these, and many other good Coolmore sires as well, hail from the line of Northern Dancer, and it has long been evident that Coolmore was searching for an outcross (or an in-cross in the case of Danzig's son War Front) that would allow them to broaden the genetic base of their sire battery.

Therefore, it is not a surprise that the organization has proven itself the most active and adept in using the greatest line of racers from Japan, in especial the great racer and sire Deep Impact, who proved himself such a splendid successor to his sire Sunday Silence (Halo), the greatest sire in the history of Thoroughbred breeding in Japan.

Prior to Auguste Rodin, who proved a top-class juvenile last fall, Coolmore had already earned the credit for 2,000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior and the 2021 Oaks winner Snowfall, who subsequently won the Irish Oaks and Yorkshire Oaks. All three of these are out of elite daughters of Galileo.

A further common element in all these pedigrees, and many others besides, is the presence of a singular chestnut mare by the name of Urban Sea (Miswaki).

A Kentucky-bred foal of 1989, Urban Sea scored her single G1 victory in 1993 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, although she placed in others. Although she wasn't the greatest of the great on the racetrack, Urban Sea had proven a marvelous producer even before her death at age 20 in 2009, when her second top-class son, Sea the Stars (Cape Cross), won the Derby and Arc de Triomphe, among other top-level triumphs.

Eight years before Sea the Stars, Urban Sea had produced a striking bay colt by Sadler's Wells who was subsequently named Galileo, who became the first son of that great sire to win the Derby. An excellent racehorse, Galileo became an even greater stallion, in part due to the broodmare band and bloodstock acumen of the Coolmore complex.

Sea the Stars has joined his older sibling as one of the elite sires in the breed, and through their widespread influence, Urban Sea is one of the most common influences in the breed at present. For a mare to be this widely present in pedigrees is a relatively uncommon occurrence, with most notably Plucky Liege (Spearmint) having also achieved a similar status through her stallion sons Sir Gallahad III, Bull Dog, and Bois Roussel.

Plucky Liege's full siblings by Teddy (Sir G and the Dog) both stood in Kentucky, but their highly successful presence at the time was not a full-blown overabundance of the same blood because the mare books of the mid-20th century were minuscule compared to those of today.

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Coolmore's conundrum is that it has exploited Sadler's Wells, and other sons of Northern Dancer, so well, and that great sire has bred on with such effect in Europe. Even by turning to the great opportunity of Deep Impact, their premium results are still out of daughters of Galileo.

The best horses and mares from this cross are going to be quality stock to breed from, as Saxon Warrior has indicated with a first-crop G1 winner, but the goal of finding a functional outcross is still elusive.

The evidence, however, from insightful breeders such as Juddmonte indicates that the problem may have a solution in the glowing abundance of Galileo and Sadler's Wells. By selecting the better prospects of these great sires and inbreeding them, while using good judgment and sound horsemanship, the results may be exceptional.

This was the case with Marcel Boussac's endeavor in close inbreeding earlier in the 20th century, but he probably needed a larger pool of stock to use. There are already some quite good examples of inbreeding, especially to Sadler's Wells, and why shouldn't this hold true of inbreeding to his best sons and grandsons?

Enable is the grandest example of this inbreeding pattern so far, being 3×2 to Sadler's Wells, but with the number of quality stock to use for inbreeding the best to the best, the results might well outstrip what has gone before and push the Thoroughbred past the genetic plateau that some believe is limiting the improvement of the breed.

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