By Andrew Caulfield
When it comes to Japanese racing, Deep Impact has long appeared to be here, there and everywhere. In recent months the perennial champion sire has been responsible for eight of the 17 contestants in the G1 Shuka Sho, for six of the 18 runners in the G1 Mile Championship and for five of the 12 high-class contenders for the G1 Tenno Sho.
It therefore seems a little surprising that the Japanese superstar had only one representative in last Sunday’s G1 Asahi Hai Futurity S. and only two in the previous week’s G1 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies. He still managed to come up with his third winner of the fillies’ contest, when Danon Fantasy scored for the third time in four starts.
However, it was a different story in the Asahi Hai Futurity, when Deep Impact’s representative Gran Alegria was the only filly in the 15-strong field. She had been so dominant in winning the G3 Saudi Arabia Royal Cup in October that she started 1-2 to become Deep Impact’s fourth winner of the Asahi Hai in the space of five years. The filly ran well without being able to withstand the finishing efforts of Admire Mars and Kurino Gaudi.
Despite this setback, Deep Impact still holds a comfortable lead among the sires of 2-year-olds, thanks to his achievement of siring 45 winners from 89 juvenile starters–pretty good going for a stallion who many Europeans mistakenly pigeonhole as a sire of stayers. With only the G1 Hopeful S. to come for the Japanese 2-year-olds, Deep Impact looks poised to record his eighth juvenile sires’ championship in the nine years he’s had runners.
Spare a thought, though, for his fellow Shadai Stallion Station resident Daiwa Major, who stood the 2018 season at a fee of ¥5 million, compared to the ¥40 million charged for Deep Impact’s services. In addition to interrupting Deep Impact’s sequence of 2-year-old sires’ championships when he took the title in 2015, Daiwa Major has been champion first-crop sire in 2011 and has finished runner-up to Deep Impact three times in the 2-year-old category. And now he is responsible for the Asahi Hai Futurity winner Admire Mars, who extended his unbeaten record to four victories, beginning with a newcomers’ race success at the end of June.
Depending on what happens in the Hopeful S. on Dec. 28, Admire Mars must have a good chance of taking the title of champion juvenile colt, to add to the championship taken by Daiwa Major’s 2-year-old daughter Major Emblem in 2015. Major Emblem went on to take the G1 NHK Mile Cup and Daiwa Major has also enjoyed Group 1 success with Reine Minoru (Oka Sho-Japanese 1,000 Guineas), Curren Black Hill (NHK Mile Cup) and Copano Richard (Takamatsunomiya Kinen over six furlongs).
The fact that Daiwa Major’s previous Group 1 winners shone at a mile or less is a reminder that he possessed ample speed, even though he was capable of very smart form at around a mile and a half (he once finished third to Deep Impact in the G1 Arima Kinen over an extended mile and a half). Although he won the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) over a mile and a quarter, it is surely significant that his three subsequent Group 1 victories were all gained over a mile (two in the Mile Championship and the other in the Yasuda Kinen).
He was also admirably durable, as he raced 28 times from two to six years and was at his most successful at the ages of five and six. He is, of course, a son of the great Sunday Silence, who is currently represented by four of the five top stallions in Japan–Deep Impact, Heart’s Cry, Stay Gold and Daiwa Major–even though he died as long ago as 2002.
Admire Mars represents a sizeable dividend on the €480,000 paid for his dam Via Medici at Arqana’s 2014 December Sale. This Medicean filly was unproven as a broodmare, as her first foal was a then-unraced 2-year-old filly by Pivotal. However, that filly–Via Pisa–became a listed winner over a mile in 2015 and Via Medici’s second foal, the Dansili filly Via Firenze, also developed into a group-placed listed winner. Via Medici also has a 2017 filly by Sunday Silence’s grandson Kinshasa No Kiseki and a 2018 daughter by the dual Classic winner Duramente.
Performance is often more important to Japanese buyers than a star-studded pedigree and Via Medici’s main attraction–apart from being in foal to the reliable Dansili–was arguably her racing record. She had won the G3 Prix de Lieurey over a mile at Deauville and her dam, the Singspiel filly Via Milano, had also been a Group 3 winner over a mile at Deauville, in the Prix de Reservoir as a 2-year-old.
Admire Mars follows the Grand Prix de Paris winner Shakeel as the second Group 1 winner produced by a daughter of Medicean, who is now the broodmare sire of eight group winners.
The fact that Via Mediici’s broodmare sire was Singspiel must also have been appealing to a Japanese buyer. The Japan Cup featured among the victories which made Singspiel an international star and his progeny later enjoyed plenty of success in Japan, with Asakusa Den’en winning the G1 Yasuda Kinen and Lohengrin the G2 Yomiuri Milers’ Cup. Lohengrin later sired Logotype, who appropriately numbered the Asahi Hai Futurity among his Group 1 successes, along with the Satsuki Sho.