"SON OF SUNDAY SILENCE"
Michele MacDonald writes that nearly four years have passed since Japanese Triple Crown winner Deep Impact streaked across a racecourse, but the son of Sunday Silence is just as much of a phenomenon today as he was at the height of his racing glory - and in some ways an even bigger one.
For the last three years, the 15.3-hand horse has virtually carried the Japanese breeding industry on his back as his sons and daughters have stoked the nation’s commercial market as it flickered in the winds of economic turbulence.
His offspring again jumped into the headlines during the two-day Japan Racing Horse Association select sale of yearlings and foals this week, pumping up the overall gross and average. At the same time, his first juveniles are beginning to light up Japan’s racetracks.
With two debut winners from his first five starters and two placed runners, Deep Impact already has claimed the lead in Japan’s freshman sire standings, even though he was not a precocious youngster himself. Deep Impact started only once as a juvenile, winning a 2000-meter maiden turf race in December 2004.
When his daughter Silent Sonic (Jpn) ran into history as his first career winner with a two-length victory in a 1,200-meter turf dash that drew 16 maiden runners at Fukushima Racecourse on 26 June, the feat made the front page of several newspapers around Japan. Silent Sonic was produced by multiple American winner Moonlight Gardens (Unbridled’s Song).
Just a day later, Deep Impact’s son Hiraboku Impact (Jpn) defeated 15 rivals in an 1800 meter maiden race on the turf at Fukushima, and Deep Impact once again could be called “the flying horse”, a moniker he earned for his furious finishes that now is an apt description for his start as a sire. Considering that Japan’s best two-year-old racing does not begin in earnest until autumn and that Deep Impact received the best mares available in Japan during his first season at stud, he could be just beginning to fly.
Befitting his star status, Deep Impact has his own uniformed security guard at the Shadai Stallion Station, where he stood this year for a fee of ¥9-million (about $101,614), and his legion of fans remains devotedly loyal. During the summer months, 300 to 400 people a day visit Shadai just to see him.
There is an almost palpable anticipation that Deep Impact could be the one Japan has been waiting for - the heir to the legacy of Sunday Silence, who led the general sire list for 13 remarkable years, while 41 of his offspring brought at least ¥100-million (about $1,130,000 at current exchange rates) in the sales rings.
In a particularly volatile market where what is fashionable this morning often is not by this afternoon, the quick start by Deep Impact’s juveniles is paramount to his future. Beyond the statistics of their starts and wins lies an enthusiasm for what owners and breeders are seeing in their Deep Impact horses that is not often expressed in the reserved culture of Japan.
“They are training very well,” said Teruya Yoshida, a perennial leading owner and breeder, as well as co owner with his brothers of the Shadai Stallion Station.
“Many of them are quite light-framed, which should help them be quick, but they are durable, strong types. There are 147 two-year-olds in his first crop and most of them are out of very well-bred mares, so the expectations are high.”
“If I was to describe Deep Impact as a stallion so far, I would say he is faultless. There is no complaint,” said Reijiro Azuma, who has trained young horses at Yoshida’s Shadai Farm for 20 years and who currently oversees colts owned by the farm and its clients. All of the Deep Impact colts are very easy to handle and all of them are very smart, part of the reason they are easy to handle. If we try to teach them something, they are quick to learn.
“They are light on their feet and run well through the deep sand of our training track, with good strength and propulsion from their hindquarters.”
Takashi Saito, trainer of Shadai’s fillies, said Deep Impact’s daughters show him the same qualities as did Sunday Silence’s fillies.
“They run like cats - like big, strong cougars,” Saito said. “So far, we have not had any physical problems with them; they are very sound. And they don’t need strong workouts. If they get steady canters, they are fit to race.”
Saito predicted that, like Sunday Silence’s offspring, Deep Impact’s sons and daughters will be versatile, successful both sprinting and staying.
“I think that Deep Impact is going to send world-class athletes to America and Europe,” he added.
Already, two of Deep Impact’s juvenile daughters - one unnamed and one named Monster Munchie (Jpn) - are based in England.
Trainer Tom Dascombe is handling the fillies, bred by Yoshida’s Shadai Farm and the Yoshida family’s Shadai Corp., for Betfair Ltd. co-founder Andrew Black, according to Dascombe’s website.
Other members of Deep Impact’s first crop include three youngsters Yoshida bred from international families and that he cited as particularly exciting in the potential they have exhibited - a colt out of G1 French Oaks winner Carling (Fr) (Garde Royale) named Libertas (Jpn); a filly out of French Group 1 winner Marbye (Ire) (Marju) named Marcellina (Jpn), and a colt out of French Group 1 winner Ski Paradise (Lyphard) named Prince d’Etoile (Jpn).
Azuma indicated he holds Prince d’Etoile, who is a striking gray like his dam, in high regard.
“His action looks like his father’s – he’s kind of a copy of Deep Impact in that respect,” Azuma said. “He has the fire of the Sunday Silence blood inside him, but he can handle everything mentally and physically.”
Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News