brian's time, classic quality, classic racing, ematings llc, hail to reason line stallions, importance of bloodstock types, international bloodstock, japanese st leger, japanese triple crown, kikuka sho, orfevre, racing in france, sid fernando, similarity of racing environments, sons of sunday silence, stamina, stay gold, sunday silence, werk thoroughbred consultants
The following post appeared earlier this week at Paulick Report.
With a powerful victory in the Grade 1 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) on Sunday at Kyoto racecourse, Orfevre became the seventh winner of the Japanese Triple Crown. The previous winner of the Japanese Triple Crown came in 2005 with Deep Impact, arguably the best racing son of Sunday Silence and his most revered offspring among racing fans in Japan.
Now, there are no more sons and daughters of Sunday Silence coming to the races in Japan. Instead, the great black son of Halo is represented by his grandsons and granddaughters. Orfevre is a chestnut son of the Sunday Silence stallion Stay Gold and ranks as one of the best offspring by a Sunday Silence stallion to date.
The new Triple Crown winner’s sire, Stay Gold, was a major winner for Sunday Silence on the racetrack, went to stud, and has become one of the leading stallions in Japan. From six crops of racing age, Stay Gold has sired 17 stakes winners that would be recognized by international cataloging standards. One of the stallion’s earliest stars was Dream Journey, who was a champion 2-year-old and later a champion older horse.
Dream Journey is a full brother to Orfevre, but the younger brother is notably less precocious. A winner and stakes-placed from three juvenile starts last season, Orfevre has won five of seven races this year, including his last five in a row. And the rangy chestnut has become truly dominant since he stretched out to race over distances of 2,000 meters (approximately 10 furlongs) and farther, which has accounted for four of his five consecutive victories.
Of the races that have shown Orfevre at his best, his victories in the G1 Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) and G1 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) came at 2,000 and 2,400 meters. After the Japanese Derby on May 29, Orfevre took the summer break that Japanese owners and trainers say is preferable, returning on September 25 in the 2,400-meter Kobe Shimbun Hai, which he won by two and a half lengths from the Heart’s Cry colt Win Variation.
In the 3,000-meter Japanese St. Leger, Win Variation again finished second by two and a half lengths. Orfevre had made a stunning move around the 2,400-meter mark to break the race open and was leading by as much as five lengths. Through the last 200 meters or so, Orfevre seemed to idle in front, and Win Variation closed some ground but did not menace the winner.
In addition to the exacta in this classic being sired by sons of Japanese racing’s beloved Sunday Silence, every one of the first dozen racers home were by sons of Sunday Silence. That pretty much kills betting grandsons of Sunday Silence as an angle for gambling, but it emphasizes how the son of Halo remade pedigrees and breeding in Japan during the course of his lifetime.
Furthermore, of the first dozen in the Japanese St. Leger, these are offspring from six sons: Stay Gold (1st, 7th), Heart’s Cry (2nd, 12th), Deep Impact (3rd, 10th), Manhattan Cafe (4th, 8th, 11th), Fuji Kiseki (5th, 6th), and Neo Universe (9th). Of the 18 starters in the race, 14 descend from Sunday Silence in the male line, and three more are out of his daughters.
In addition to the revolutionary influence of Sunday Silence on racing and breeding in Japan, one wonders if there are other considerations that have contributed to Japanese breeders’ production of Triple Crown winners when racing in England and the States has not had a Triple Crown winner over the past several decades.
Sid Fernando, former bloodstock editor of Daily Racing Form and now the president of Werk Thoroughbred Consultants Inc. and Ematings LLC, said that several factors have helped the Japanese to continue producing world-class stayers and classic performers.
For one thing, the bloodlines were in place. Fernando said that “before Sunday Silence made a huge impact on breeding in Japan, there was Narita Brian, a Japanese Triple Crown winner by the Roberto horse Brian’s Time,” who won the Florida Derby, ran second in the Preakness, third in the Belmont and Travers.
Clearly from the success of Brian’s Time, a Hail to Reason line horse could do well in Japan, with its wealth of Northern Dancer and European bloodlines, and an even better Hail to Reason line horse like Sunday Silence should do better.
Fernando said: “We knew from the beginning that the Sunday Silence stock was special because his first-crop Japanese Oaks winner was classic-placed in France, and the Sunday Silence stock have continued to do well in the French program,” as seen by Dabirsim, who is an unbeaten juvenile star in France by the Sunday Silence stallion Hat Trick, who stands at Walmac International in Kentucky.
“Even before they began racing Sunday Silence offspring in France,” Fernando said, “the Yoshidas had a highly symbiotic relationship with the French racing program, especially since they had raced Northern Taste there before taking him to stud in Japan,” where he became the most important Japanese-based stallion prior to Sunday Silence.
And a final factor for escalating classic success has been breeding and racing for stamina.
Fernando said, “In Germany, as well as in Japan, stamina is a major component of their racing programs. Stamina is valued, and they love to stand stallions who are classic winners. As a result, we are seeing horses like Danedream win the Arc de Triomphe and Animal Kingdom (out of a German-bred mare) win the Kentucky Derby.”