Bloodlines: Sunday Silence Progeny Still Speak Volumes

by | 11.29.2016 | 12:23am
Kitasan Black and his connections after his Japan Cup victory

Perhaps you've read praise of Sunday Silence, champion racer in the US and Horse of the Year. Perhaps the gentle reader has even perused my comments on the degree to which the black son of Halo changed the breed and changed breeding in Japan.

The saga of Sunday Silence began 30 years ago in Bourbon County and ended in Japan on the northern island of Hokkaido. Or at least the life of Sunday Silence ended there and then.

The legend lives on.

And so does Sunday Silence's inestimable genetic legacy. On Nov. 27 at Tokyo, Sunday Silence's grandson Kitasan Black (by Black Tide) won the G1 Japan Cup after leading all the way in the 2,400- meter race, defeating numerous other grandsons of Sunday Silence.

Racing and breeding in Japan are still dominated by the grandsons and sons, as well as the granddaughters and daughters, of Sunday Silence, who set records for quality on the racecourse and for earnings by his many winners.

From Japan Racing Association data on the stallion's 12 crops, Sunday Silence sired 1,514 foals. Of those, 1,386 raced (91.5 percent), 1,067 won (70.5 percent), and overall, the offspring of Sunday Silence earned a smidge more than 80 billion yen ($713 million), and the grand stallion, whose last crop was foaled in 2003, had a winner in 2016. This boot-leather tough old warrior is a 14-year-old horse named Bullet Liner, and he has won 21 races from 166 starts.

The raw statistics give an unwavering assessment of both the quality of Sunday Silence's stock, as well as their hardy constitutions.

The second-generation stock from Sunday Silence have proliferated to a remarkable extent and virtually fill the racecards for much of racing in Japan. They race well and often. The Japan Cup winner is a 4-year-old, winning at the G1 level for the third time, and he is expected to race next year at 5.

Kitasan Black is the best racehorse from his sire Black Tide, who bears a striking resemblance to his famous sire. From Sunday Silence's 2001 crop and bred by Northern Farm, Black Tide was a striking colt who sold for 101.85 million yen (about $900,000) at the 2001 annual select foal sale, selling to Makoto Kaneko. Black Tide brought the fifth-highest price of any foal at the sale, and 10 of the 12 most expensive were by Sunday Silence.

As a racehorse, Black Tide was a G2 winner of the Spring Stakes at Nakayama as a 3-year-old. A winner in three of his 22 starts, Black Tide was a thoroughly useful performer: winner at 2, G2 winner at 3, G3 placed at 3 and 5, and second or third in listed company on five occasions. The handsome black horse was not able to crack through at the premier level, however, and he would not have been an automatic breeding selection for his homeland's stallion stations, which were not light on stallions and stallion prospects by the famous sire.

But Black Tide is the year-older full brother to Deep Impact.

Deep Impact was the best racehorse sired by Sunday Silence, and coming to the races after his sire's death, the excellence of Deep Impact was a final gift to the sport in Japan from the horse who kept on giving. The tremendous bay Deep Impact won 12 of his 13 starts in Japan, winning the Triple Crown and the Japan Cup. Standing at Shadai Stallion Station, he has bred large books of excellent mares and has made an impact on the breed in Japan surpassed only by his sire.

When his elder brother retired to stud, the situation was different. Black Tide was good enough to take a chance on, many breeders reasoned, and his books were well filled at Breeders Stallion Station. The top mares were not his, however, and Black Tide has had to earn his reputation through the athleticism and consistency of his offspring.

From his sire's third crop, Kitasan Black is the star racer for Black Tide. So far. The Japan Cup winner has been victor in 8 of his 13 starts, and he is one of more than 200 winners for his sire.

This year, Black Tide ranks 12th on the general sire list in Japan, and Deep Impact ranks 1st. In one of the most competitive stallion markets, that is a fair assessment. Black Tide stood for 3 million yen this year, and greater acclaim and more accomplished mares will give him the opportunity to maintain a significant position in the ranks of stallions in Japan.

Frank Mitchell is author of Racehorse Breeding Theories, as well as the book Great Breeders and Their Methods: The Hancocks. In addition to writing the column “Sires and Dams” in Daily Racing Form for nearly 15 years, he has contributed articles to Thoroughbred Daily News, Thoroughbred Times, Thoroughbred Record, International Thoroughbred, and other major publications. In addition, Frank is chief of biomechanics for DataTrack International and is a hands-on caretaker of his own broodmares and foals in central Kentucky. Check out Frank's lively Bloodstock in the Bluegrass blog.

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