Sea Hero

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Sea Hero
Statue of Sea Hero at Saratoga Park
SirePolish Navy
DamGlowing Tribute
Foaled (1990-03-04) March 4, 1990 (age 29)
CountryUnited States
BreederPaul Mellon
OwnerRokeby Stables. Silks: Dark Gray, Yellow Braid, Sleeves and Cap.
TrainerMacKenzie Miller
Record24: 6-3-4
Major wins
Champagne Stakes (1992)
Travers Stakes (1993) American Classic Race wins:
Kentucky Derby (1993)
Life-size statue at Saratoga Race Course
Sea Hero Road, Frankfort, Kentucky
Sea Hero Court in Napa, California
Bronze statue at National Sporting Library
Last updated on December 9, 2007

Sea Hero (foaled March 4, 1990 in Virginia) is an American-bred Thoroughbred racehorse best known for winning the 1993 Kentucky Derby and Travers Stakes. Since 2011, Sea Hero is the oldest living winner of the Kentucky Derby.[2]


Sea Hero was bred in Virginia by Paul Mellon and raced for Mellon's Rokeby Stables. Sea Hero was by Polish Navy, who was a good racehorse but otherwise a disappointment as a sire.[3] Sea Hero's dam was Glowing Tribute, who descended from one of the most distinguished thoroughbred families in North America – that of La Troienne. Glowing Tribute was named Kentucky Broodmare of the Year in 1993 after she had produced not only Sea Hero but graded stakes winners Hero's Honor, Wild Applause and Glowing Honor.[2]

In 1992, Mellon, then aged 84, started dispersing most of his stock but kept Sea Hero, who was in training with MacKenzie Miller.[2] Sea Hero was considered somewhat temperamental and had a habit of getting his tongue over the bit, forcing Miller to experiment with different equipment.[4]

Racing career[edit]

Sea Hero made his racing debut on July 13, 1992 in a maiden special weight race at Belmont Park, in which he finished fourth. He did not win his first race until September 7 in what was his fourth start, racing over 1 mile on the turf. He next won an allowance race on the turf then switched to dirt to win the Grade I Champagne Stakes. He finished the year with a seventh-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.[1]

At the start of his three-year-old campaign, Sea Hero was winless in his first three starts.[1] His best result was a fourth-place finish in the Blue Grass Stakes to Prairie Bayou, who then became the lukewarm favorite for the Kentucky Derby. Sea Hero entered the Derby as a 13-1 longshot and pulled off the upset by ​2 12 lengths over Prairie Bayou.[5] It marked the first Derby win for jockey Jerry Bailey and for 71-year-old trainer Miller. It was also the first Derby win for Mellon, who became the only person to ever win the Kentucky Derby, The Derby, and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, having captured the latter two with Mill Reef in 1971.[2]

Following his Derby win, Sea Hero finished fifth in the Preakness and seventh in the Belmont but still earned a $1 million bonus for leading the Triple Crown points standings after Prairie Bayou's breakdown in the Belmont. He then finished fourth in the Jim Dandy Stakes, thus entering the Travers with a three-race losing streak.[6]

In the $1 million Travers Stakes, Sea Hero displayed an "uncanny sense of timing" by reverting to his form in the Kentucky Derby. He tracked behind the early pace, then angled wide to get running room. In the stretch, he sprinted to the lead for a two-length win over Kissin Kris, with Belmont Stakes winner Colonial Affair in fourth. Sea Hero became the first Derby winner to also win the Travers since Shut Out in 1942. It was the fifth Travers win for Rokeby Stable.[6]

Sea Hero then shipped to Woodbine racetrack for the Molson Export Million, where he finished third to Canadian Triple Crown winner Peteski.[7] He finished second in the Eclipse Award balloting for Champion three-year-old to Prairie Bayou, who had been more consistent in his brief career.[8]

At age four, Sea Hero had one win from eight starts, plus a second-place finish in the Bowling Green Handicap on the turf.[1]

Race statistics[edit]

Date Track Race Grade Distance Finish Time
7/13/1992 Belmont Park Maiden Special Weight 5 12 furlongs 4
8/2/1992 Saratoga Maiden Special Weight 6 furlongs 5
8/21/1992 Saratoga Maiden Special Weight 7 furlongs 2
9/7/1992 Belmont Park Maiden Special Weight (turf) 1 mile 1 1:35.42
9/21/1992 Belmont Park Allowance (turf) 1 mile 1 1:34.60
10/10/1992 Belmont Park Champagne Stakes I 1 mile 1 1:34.87
10/31/1992 Belmont Park Breeders' Cup Juvenile I 1 116 miles 7
2/7/1993 Gulfstream Park Palm Beach Stakes III 1 116 miles 9
2/25/1993 Gulfstream Park Allowance 1 116 miles 3
4/10/1993 Keeneland Blue Grass Stakes II 1 18 miles 4
5/1/1993 Churchill Downs Kentucky Derby I 1 14 miles 1 2:02.42
5/15/1993 Pimlico Preakness Stakes I 1 316 miles 5
6/5/1993 Belmont Park Belmont Stakes I 1 12 miles 7
8/1/1993 Saratoga Jim Dandy Stakes II 1 18 miles 4
8/21/1993 Saratoga Race Course Travers Stakes I 1 1/4 miles 1 2:01.95
9/19/1993 Woodbine Molson Export Million II 1 18 miles 3
5/17/1994 Belmont Park Allowance 7 furlongs 1 1:22.79
5/30/1994 Belmont Park Allowance (turf) 1 116 miles 2
6/18/1994 Belmont Park Brooklyn Handicap II 1 18 miles 3
7/2/1994 Belmont Park Bowling Green Handicap IIT 1 18 miles 2
7/30/1994 Saratoga Sword Dancer Invitational IT 1 12 miles 7
8/20/1994 Saratoga Handicap (turf) 1 18 miles 3
9/3/1994 Belmont Park Belmont Breeders' Cup Handicap IIIT 1 116 miles 5
10/15/1994 Keeneland Fayette Stakes IIT 1 18 miles 5

Retirement and honors[edit]

Sea Hero was retired to stud at Lane's End Farm in 1995 but was considered a disappointment. In 1999, he was sold to Karacabey Pension Stud in Izmit, Turkey[4] where he had better results, becoming the seventh all-time leading sire in Turkey by progeny earnings.[9] He was a top 10 stallion for many years, ranking as high as #3 in 2007. He is the sire of fifteen stakes winners and has also proved a successful broodmare sire.[2]

A bronze statue of Sea Hero stands in the paddock at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. In 2015, another statue was installed at the National Sporting Library & Museum in Middleburg, Virginia. Sea Hero Road in Frankfort, Kentucky is named for the horse, as is Sea Hero Court in Napa, California.[2] Sea Hero Place in Austin Texas is also named for the Kentucky Derby Winner


Pedigree of Sea Hero, bay horse, 1990[10]
Polish Navy
Northern Dancer (CAN) Nearctic
Pas de Nom Admiral's Voyage
Tatan The Yuvaraj (GB)
Valkyrie (GB)
Busanda War Admiral
Glowing Tribute
Ribot Tenerani
Flower Bowl Alibhai
Flower Bed
Hail to Reason Turn-to
Searching War Admiral
Big Hurry (family: 1-x)

Sea Hero is inbred 4 × 4 to War Admiral, meaning War Admiral appears twice in the fourth generation of Sea Hero's pedigree. He is also inbred 5 × 5 to La Troienne through her daughters Businesslike and Big Hurry.


  1. ^ a b c d "Horse Profile: Sea Hero". Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Avalyn Hunter. "Sea Hero (horse)". American Classic Pedigrees. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  3. ^ Avalyn Hunter. "Polish Navy (horse)". American Classic Pedigrees. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  4. ^ a b Beauchamp, Juliette (4 March 2016). "This Week in Horse History - Sea Hero". Horse Talk Magazine. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  5. ^ Rees, Jennie. "Derby countdown - Sea Hero, 1993". Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  6. ^ a b Durso, Joseph (22 August 1993). "Sea Hero Turns the Travers Into a Rerun of Kentucky Derby". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  7. ^ Christine, Bill (20 September 1993). "Peteski Wins Again, in Woodbine Million : Horse racing: He defeats Sea Hero, Colonial Affair, further muddying the 3-year-old picture". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  8. ^ Durso, Joseph (21 January 1994). "Eclipse Winners: Now They're Off for Horse of the Year". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  9. ^ MacDonald, Michele. "Victory Gallop: A Star In Growing Turkish Industry". Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  10. ^ "Sea Hero's Pedigree". Retrieved 5 August 2016.