Japan Success Generations In The Making

Authority and Christophe Lemaire winning the Neom Turf Cup | Jockey Club Of Saudi Arabia


The main event on Saudi Cup Day two weeks ago was all about the host nation, with the locally owned and trained Emblem Road (Quality Road) posting a remarkable upset in the world's richest horse race. Saudi Arabia has announced its presence on the global horse racing scene loud and clear, and the country-with its ever-increasing investment in racehorses and breeding stock globally–will continue to be heard from for years to come.

When the layers are peeled back on the third running of the Saudi Cup card, however, it was another nation who made the biggest statement. Japan swept the first four international races on the card and finished second and third in the G3 Saudi Derby. In other words, the only race in which Japan did not hit the board was the Saudi Cup.

While Saudi Cup Day marked a breakout performance for Japan on the world stage, it was far from its first-the dust had still barely settled on Japan's two-win days at both the Breeders' Cup and Hong Kong International Meeting last year-and in fact, the crescendo has been rising for years. Japan's increasing frequency of success on racing's biggest days have gone hand-in-hand with the internationalization of its industry in recent decades, and indeed each of the nation's winners and placegetters on Saudi Cup Day boast pedigrees that have criss-crossed the continents for generations.

Undoubtedly the most major turning point in the history of Japanese breeding came when Zenya Yoshida–the father of current-day Japanese breeding doyens Teruya, Katsumi and Haruya Yoshida-purchased American Classic winner Sunday Silence to stand at stud at Shadai Stallion Station in Hokkaido, reportedly paying $7.5-million for 75% of the horse in 1991 (Yoshida had purchased 25% of Sunday Silence in training so was buying out his partners on the remainder). Sunday Silence, the 10-time champion sire in Japan, had his presence felt on Saudi Cup day not only through his best-known son Deep Impact (Jpn), whose son Kizuna (Jpn) sired the G3 1351 Turf Sprint winner Songline (Jpn), but also through another son, Stay Gold (Jpn), and his own son in turn Orfevre (Jpn).

Stay Gold (Jpn) was a member of Sunday Silence's third crop and was his sire's first major international winner, traveling to take the Dubai Sheema Classic and Hong Kong Vase. Stay Gold has sired 56 stakes winners and 10 Group 1 winners and Stay Foolish (Jpn), a member of Stay Gold's last full crop, joined his sire as an international winner with a victory in the 3000-metre G3 Red Sea Turf H., defeating the G1 Irish St Leger scorer Sonnyboyliston (Ire) (Power {GB}).

Another of Stay Gold's international winners-and, in fact, the second-richest racehorse in history-was Orfevre (Jpn), the Japanese Triple Crown and two-time G1 Arima Kinen scorer who is probably best known internationally for twice finishing second in the G1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, including when he famously snatched defeat from the jaws of victory when hanging badly inside the final furlong while on the lead in 2012, once again dashing Japan's still unfulfilled Arc dreams.

Orfevre's Authority (Jpn) was already a triple group-race winner in Japan but he landed on the public radar in November when finishing second to Contrail (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) in the Japan Cup, and he kicked off Japan's four-timer on Saudi Cup Day when justifying favouritism in the 2100-metre G3 Neom Turf Cup. Orfevre is also the sire of last year's GI Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Marche Lorraine (Jpn), who was sixth in her final start in the Saudi Cup.

Authority and Stay Foolish's victories bookended the filly Songline in the 1351 Turf Sprint. Her sire Kizuna is another to have represented Japan admirably on the world stage: racing for the Maeda family, which regularly supplements its stock with American bloodlines, Kizuna traveled to France to beat the Derby winner Ruler Of The World (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) in the G2 Prix Niel and was fourth behind Treve (Fr) and Orfevre (Jpn) in the 2014 Arc.

Another sire story of the day belonged to Symboli Kris S, broodmare sire of both Authority and Songline. Symboli Kris S was bred in Kentucky by Takahiro Wada and like Sunday Silence descends from the Hail To Reason line, he through Roberto and Kris S. Symboli Kris S was exported to Japan for his racing career and was highly successful, winning two renewals each of the G1 Arima Kinen and G1 Tenno Sho Autumn before retiring to Shadai. The best of Symboli Kris S's five Group 1 winners thus far has been the G1 Japan Cup and Classic-winning Epiphaneia (Jpn) and he, incidentally, is a full-brother to Authority's dam Rosalind (Jpn). Epiphaneia and Rosalind are out of Cesario (Jpn) (Special Week {Jpn}) who, like Stay Gold, was a pioneering Japanese shipper, traveling to California to win the GI American Oaks by four lengths in 2005 after taking the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks). Cesario has become an excellent producer; in addition to Epiphaneia and Rosalind, she is the dam of the 2015 champion 2-year-old colt Leontes (Jpn) (King Kamehameha {Jpn}); Saturnalia (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}), a Group 1 winner at two and a Classic winner, and two other Group 2-placed winners. Songline is a descendant of European champion filly Sonic Lady (Nureyev), and it is also the family of Deirdre (Jpn) (Harbinger {GB}), who scored a hugely popular victory when winning the G1 Nassau S. at Glorious Goodwood in 2019 before staying on to train in Newmarket and traveling the world to run in Group 1s.

Dancing Prince (Jpn) (Pas De Trois {Jpn}), Japan's fourth winner on Saudi Cup Day in the G3 Riyadh Dirt Sprint, brings together influences of Mr. Prospector, Halo and Northern Dancer through their Japanese imported sons End Sweep, Sunday Silence and Northern Taste, respectively. The 7-year-old Dancing Prince, who won the G3 Capella S. on Dec. 12, is the most successful horse sired by the multiple Group 3-winning turf sprinter Pas de Trois, whose sire Swept Overboard won the GI Ancient Title S. in 2001 and the GI Met Mile in 2002. Swept Overboard was sold to stand in Japan upon the conclusion of his racing career and his best runner is Omega Perfume (Jpn), who won four straight renewals of the Tokyo Daishoten, a local Group 1, including the most recent renewal in December. Swept Overboard's sire and grandsire, End Sweep and Forty Niner, were both champion first-season sires in America before being sold to stand in Japan.

Dancing Prince is out of a mare by Bubble Gum Fellow (Jpn), a champion 2-year-old from Sunday Silence's first crop. His second dam, Sawayaka Princess (Northern Taste), produced the G1 Mile Championship winner Durandal (Jpn) (Sunday Silence). Japan was also third and fourth in the Dirt Sprint with Chain Of Love (Jpn) (Heart's Cry {Jpn}) and defending winner Copano Kicking (Spring At Last).

When it comes to passion for horse racing, it would be tough to top the Japanese. There is an incredible betting culture and fandom surrounding the sport in Japan, and international success seems to directly fuel not only increased global participation, but also the spend on bloodstock: just days removed from the nation's Breeders' Cup double with Marche Lorraine and Loves Only You (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), Japanese breeders headed to the Kentucky breeding stock sales and purchased 13 seven-figure mares, including the Classic-winning filly Swiss Skydiver (Daredevil) for $4.7-million and four additional mares that topped $3-million.

Now, Japan is poised to bring an unprecedented squad to Dubai World Cup night that currently numbers 23. Authority and Stay Foolish are on the lists, respectively, for the G1 Sheema Classic and G2 Gold Cup. Sekifu (Jpn) (Henny Hughes), who was runner-up in the G3 Saudi Derby, is pencilled in for the G2 UAE Derby. Among those set to join Authority in the Sheema Classic are Glory Vase (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), the two-time winner of the G1 Hong Kong Vase, and last year's G1 Tokyo Yushun and G1 Yushun Himba scorers Shahryar (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) and Uberleben (Jpn) (Gold Ship {Jpn}). Schnell Meister (Ger) (Kingman {GB}), who was bred in Germany but is campaigned in Japan by Sunday Racing and beat Songline in last year's G1 NHK Mile Cup, is among those earmarked for the G1 Dubai Turf, while Vin De Garde (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), who was runner-up in the 1800 metre event last year, is set to return. Copano Kicking and Chain Of Love lead the Japanese squad for the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen. Japanese dirt star Chuwa Wizard (Jpn) (King Kamehameha {Jpn}) will line up for the $12-million G1 Dubai World Cup.

Those are just a handful of the runners that could give Japan another night to remember in Dubai later this month. And regardless of the outcomes at Meydan, it is an odds-on bet that the global racing community will continue to see the effects of Japan's incredible investment in and commitment to its racing and breeding programme.

Japanese Contenders

Dubai World Cup 2022

G1 Dubai World Cup
Chuwa Wizard (Jpn) (King Kamehameha {Jpn})

G1 Dubai Sheema Classic
Authority (Jpn) (Orfevre {Jpn})
Glory Vase (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn})
Shahryar (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn})
Stella Veloce (Jpn) (Bago {Fr})
Uberleben (Jpn) (Gold Ship {Jpn})

G1 Dubai Turf
Schnell Meister (Ger) (Kingman {GB})
Vin de Garde (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn})
Panthalassa (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn})

G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen
Red le Zele (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn})
Copano Kicking (Spring At Last)
Chain of Love (Jpn) (Heart's Cry {Jpn})

G1 Al Quoz Sprint
Lauda Sion (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn})
Entscheiden (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn})

G2 UAE Derby
Sekifu (Jpn) (Henny Hughes)
Combustion (Jpn) (Discreet Cat)
Reiwa Homare (Jpn) (Deep Brillante {Jpn})
Crown Pride (Jpn) (Reach The Crown {Jpn})

G2 Dubai Gold Cup
Stay Foolish (Jpn) (Stay Gold {Jpn})
Veloce Oro (Jpn) (Gold Ship {Jpn})

G2 Godolphin Mile
Bathrat Leon (Jpn) (Kizuna {Jpn})
Full Flat (Speightstown)
Soliste Thunder (Jpn) (Toby's Corner)

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