The Greatest Racehorses - Ever

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Sadler's Wells (USA) - Urban Sea (USA)
Foaled 1998 Bay Stallion
Runs: 8 Wins: 6 Places: 1 Earned: £1,621,110
Form: 1 - 1111126
Timeform Rating: 134

Race Wins: 2yo Maiden by a phenomonal 14 lengths

Ballysax Stakes Listed by 3 1/2 lengths

Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Gr3 by 1 1/2 lengths

King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamond Gr 1 by 2 lengths

Irish Derby Gr 1 by 4 lengths

English Derby Gr 1 by 3 1/2 lengths

I Was There
The only time I ever saw Leo in the flesh was when he won the English Derby (pictured below) in June 2001. On that day he became the first Sadler's Wells horse to win the Derby, thus ensuring his place in the history books, not that he hadn't done so already. Like TJ & Bosra Sham I am in love with this horse, who's long easy stride covered the maximum of distance with the minimum of fuss. When M J Kinane kicked for home up the undulating straight Leo quicken magnificently to leave a top class field floudering in his wake. That single moment sent chills down my spine which I haven't felt since.

Divided Opinion
I know this next bit will always be up for debate, which is no bad thing but I always believed Leo was unlucky to be run out of the Irish Champion Stakes by a head after a ding dong battle up the straight with the Godolphin owned older horse, Fantastic Light (a full page on him will follow later courtesy of Jen). I have never prayed so hard for a horse to win a race as I did that day particularily as it was race tactics rather than lack of talent or willingness to win that got Leo beat.

Credit where its due, Godolphin used their pacemaker Give The Slip to good effect sitting just in front of Fantastic Light on the rail and moving smoothly off it to let his stablemate go by as the race hotted up. This in turn forced Leo wide which lost him the vital ground needed for it to be his head on the money at the line (see below From Left to Right - Galileo & Fantastic Light)

Co-ed Jen:- I don't know Jez I still think the older horse would have won it regardless of Leo switching wide as he was a seasoned battler & well Leo wasn't. Sorry! :D

The Breeders Cup
Co-ed TJ:- Lets not go there. It was one of the worst decisions made by Coolmore & the Ballydoyle team in their entire history.

Sorry babe Im going there although I do agree it was a crying shame to send Leo to end his racing career in the Breeders Cup where he finished a creditable sixth on a surface he did not like. I never in a million years thought he'd handle the dirt & its kickback as well as the American style of racing IE flat out from the bell to the wire. How I wish I'd be proven wrong as we gathered at TJ's Breeders Cup party in November 2001. It wasn't meant to be & Leo finished well beaten in the end with brusing to his eyes caused by the kickback throughout the race. (Pictured Below: Galileo taking to the dirt prior to the main event, the Breeders Cup Classic 2001)

Where are they now?

As you would expect Leo is now standing as a shuttle stallion at Coolmore Stud (Ireland) & their Australian operation during the southern hemisphere breeding season. He is already producing good female winners from his first crop of foals including the 2006 Irish 1000 Guineas winner Nightime and 2006 Lancashire Oaks winner Allegretto.

Sadly despite this Leo still doesnt get the recognition he deserves and his sweeping victories are swiftly forgotten by his final two defeats both of which lowered his value at stud dramatically. But surely the defeated warrior on those two occasions was still the same horse that won two Derby's in a canter his brilliance tarnished by decisions made that were out of his control.

I guess its up to his offspring now to place him back up on the pedestal he once adorned within the racing world.



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