Too often, mares do not receive the credit they deserve. On the breeding and bloodstock side of the fence in particular, mares are typically overlooked by the public and even by professionals due to the vast output from stallions compared to the puny production a mare can add to the Thoroughbred population annually.
A good mare, a really good one who pops out foals like peas, produces one foal a year. For some mares, however, for some very special mares, one is enough.
Take the case of Urban Sea (by Miswaki). On the racecourse, she won eight of her 23 races, but the victory that counted most was the 1993 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. On her best days besides the Arc, Urban Sea showed quite good form; she was second in the G1 Prince of Wales’s at Royal Ascot, second in the E.P. Taylor at Woodbine, third in the Prix Vermeille and in the Prix Ganay, both at Longchamp.
So, Urban Sea was talented, was tough, and she was a winner at 2 and continued that into her 5-year-old season. Then she went to stud and became a legend.
That’s not the norm; that’s not statistically probable. Nonetheless, Urban Sea did it.
The mare’s first four foals were all stakes winners. Urban Ocean (Bering) won the Gallinule Stakes. Melikah (Lammtarra) won the Pretty Polly; the mare’s fourth foal, a colt by Sadler’s Wells named Black Sam Bellamy, won the Tattersalls Gold Cup.
That colt’s full brother was Urban Sea’s third foal. He won a half-dozen races, including the English Derby, Irish Derby, and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. His name is Galileo.
Like his dam and like his sire, Galileo was a right nice performer on the racetrack. And when he went to stud, he was a better producer of racehorses than anything like the norm, even for very good racehorses and sires.
Currently, Galileo is bearing down on his next unimaginable target as a sire of unequalled accomplishments: he is going to pass 300 lifetime stakes winners sometime in the next year. That’s not something that might happen or would be nice to happen. Just as the sun will rise tomorrow, Galileo will pass 300 stakes winners; he has 286 at last count, but that could change any minute. Galileo is also the leading sire in England and Ireland for the 10th time, the ninth in a row.
Over the weekend, Galileo’s daughter Magical won her first G1 stakes in the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes; the 3-year-old full sister to three-time G1 winner Rhododendron was already a G2 stakes winner. On the Champions Day card, the open feature at 10 furlongs was the Champion Stakes, and for the second year in a row, the race went to Cracksman, the best son of Frankel to date.
Unbeaten Frankel was the best racing son of Galileo, and the unbeaten bay is bidding to be the best son at stud also. With nearly three dozen stakes winners to date, Frankel is represented by three crops of racing age, led by the 4-year-old Cracksman.
In the Champion, Cracksman won his race at the expense of Crystal Ocean, one of the high-class racers of 2018 by the once-beaten Sea the Stars (Cape Cross). A winner of the English Derby, 2,000 Guineas, Eclipse Stakes, Irish Champion, and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Sea the Stars is one of the four stakes winners from the last six foals from Urban Sea.
A half-brother to Galileo, Sea the Stars has been a mightily effective sire of classic performers, with Oaks winner Taghrooda, English Derby winner Harzand, and German Derby winner Sea the Moon among the sire’s best performers to date from nearly four dozen stakes winners. The leading racers by Sea the Stars this season include Cloth of Stars (G1 Prix Ganay) and Stradivarius, winner of the British Champions Long Distance Cup on Saturday and the leading stayer in England who is unbeaten in five starts in 2018. Also on Saturday, the filly Listen In (Sea the Stars) won the Prix du Conseil du Paris (about 12 furlongs) at Chantilly.
Without doubt, Galileo and Sea the Stars are the primary conduits for spreading the influence of their famous dam throughout the pedigrees of the world.
Of the eight stakes winners out of Urban Sea, Galileo and Sea the Stars are peers of the realm in racing and breeding. Everywhere, they are considered among the best of the best. Classic winners and sires of classic winners and champions, they are not, however, the only important producers of important racing stock that Urban Sea has produced.
One of the ironies of breeding is that Urban Sea, as great a broodmare as she was, had only 11 named foals. That is 10 percent (or less) of the production from a popular stallion in a single year. From Urban Sea’s small pool, however, she has launched a great tide of bloodstock around the world.