More Records Broken at JRHA Select Sale as Kitasan Black Colt Clears €3.34m

A colt by Kitasan Black set a new record at the JRHA Yearling Sale on Monday | JRHA

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HOKKAIDO, Japan-“The world is getting smaller,” MV Magnier remarked when discussing some of the pedigrees on offer at this year's JRHA Select Sale, and so it proved when a Kitasan Black (Jpn) colt out of the multiple Group-1 placed Galileo (Ire) mare Delphinia (Ire) set a new record at ¥590 million [roughly €3.34 million] for the highest-priced yearling ever sold at the premier Japanese sale.  

It was Rodeo Japan-a guise for an anonymous Japanese owner-who came out on top in the bidding war for lot 100, who boasts a strong European pedigree. 

Trained by Aidan O'Brien on behalf of the Coolmore partners, Delphinia finished second in the G1 Prix de Royallieu as well as the G1 British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes. She also finished fifth in the Oaks and signed off on her career with a Listed success over 1m5f, showing the stamina that is deeply desired in this part of the world.

Delphinia has already come up with the goods in Japan. Her three-year-old filly named Best Me Ever (Jpn) (No Nay Never) won over 1m1f in Tokyo and she also has a two-year-old by Kizuna (Jpn) in training here. 

Kitasan Black is not doing too badly himself. He remains one of the most in-demand sires at the Shadai Stallion Station and has plenty to boast about following the exploits of Japan's most famous son Equinox (Jpn) last year.

While the purchaser was keen to remain anonymous-something that is quite common in Japan-there is no doubting that, whoever the person is, they have plenty of friends judging by the amount of people connected with the buyer who rushed out to pose for photos with the record-breaker.

Connections of the winning bidder pose for a photo with the record-breaker | Brian Sheerin

That horse, like 179 others in this sale, represents Katsumi Yoshida's Northern Farm. As is customary for this sale, Yoshida spoke to the press almost immediately after the hammer had fallen on the last yearling through the ring, where he admitted to being genuinely surprised by such a buoyant sale.

“They were very surprising results,” he said. “This year's results are better than last year which I am truly surprised about.”

Of the 233 horses offered, 224 were sold, which represented a clearance rate of 96%–down 1% on last year. A remarkable ¥14,497,000,000 [€83,148,849] was traded, which was up 8.5% on last year. The average was ¥64,720,000 [€371,200]–up 4.6% on last year's trade. 

Asked what he thought were the driving factors for such a strong sale, Yoshida replied, “The Japanese stock market is very high right now and I think that sort of thing has an influence. Also, Japanese-bred horses are performing very well all over the world and that is another big reason. 

“There has been a lot of interest from international media on this sale as well, and we are very pleased to promote this sale. The Thoroughbred Daily News always covers this sale every year which is a very good promotion for us in the world horse racing industry. So many people can focus on this sale because it is the first yearling sale in the world and it commands a lot of attention.”

He added, “I am very much looking forward to the foal session tomorrow because the quality is very high there as well. I think the level is going to be incredibly high tomorrow. We are very much looking forward to it.”

US Owner Mike Repole Spends €1.63m on Five Japanese Yearlings

While the lion's share of the lots offered on day one stayed in Japan, it wasn't an entirely domestic event with American bloodstock agent Alex Solis spending ¥287 million [€1.64 million] on five yearlings on behalf of owner Mike Repole. 

It didn't take Solis and his team long to get in on the action when signing for a Contrail (Jpn) colt [49] for ¥50 million [€287,000] followed by a ¥41 million [€235,000] colt by Champion US sprinter Drefong [76]. 

Solis went on to buy another Drefong [152, for ¥50 million/€286,000], this time a filly, and shared how he had hoped to pick up something by the sire at the sale.

Speaking about his haul, the agent said, “Contrail is one of the best horses that we have seen over here in a long time. That colt comes from a nice American family, which is great, and the dam [Sound Barrier (Jpn) (Agnes Digital)] was a very good filly here as well. 

“We bought a Drefong out of a half-sister to Ushba Tesoro (Jpn) (Orfevre {Jpn}), who won the Dubai World Cup last year. We were actually looking for a Drefong so it worked out well because we bought another. He's had a really good start over here. The second one is out of Tammy The Torpedo (More Than Ready), who was a really good race filly for Chad Brown. If you look at the pedigree, the mare has been to War Front, Deep Impact (Jpn), Heart's Cry (Jpn) and Kizuna (Jpn). I just wonder did she need the speed of Drefong.”

Lot 122, a filly by Nadal, headed the spend at ¥78 million [€446,000] million and the five-strong haul was completed by a ¥68 million [€390,000]  Kizuna filly with a deep American pedigree. 

Solis continued, “We also bought a Kizuna filly out of Breeders' Cup winner Ginger Punch (Awesome Again). She has a huge pedigree. It's a long-term play. Hopefully she can run but there is a bit of a back-up plan with her. 

“Our pick of the fillies in this sale was the Nadal [122] that we bought. She looks like an American filly. She looks fast and is out of a Lord Kanaloa (Jpn) mare. Awesome specimen–she's a big, strong type.”

While Solis had made plenty of trips to Japan previously, Monday marked his first time buying at the sale, and he revealed that his owner Repole couldn't have been more excited to have added the Japanese recruits to the time.

He said, “I've made lots of different trips to Japan but this is my first time at the sale. Mike is enamoured with Japanese racing.  You know, all the stallions get a good chance and the mares as well. They focus so much on quality over here and that's why they really excel. He's been studying Japanese racing for a long time and could probably tell you more about the form over here than I could. It's the middle of the night in America but he was on the phone for every horse we bought. It's pretty exciting.”

The stunning white colt by Maurice attracted plenty of attention | JRHA

Talking points

  • The first lot into the ring set the tempo. A Lord Kanaloa (Jpn) colt out of French 1,000 Guineas winner Dream And Do (Ire) (Fr), he didn't appear to take too kindly to the auctioneer's yelps. Barreling over his handler and knocking down the temporarily-placed evergreen trees to the right of the rostrum didn't deter a buyer under the guise of Sky Planning who went to ¥170 million [close to €1 million]. That buyer is understood to own horses in Europe and is not just exclusive to Japan. 
  • Shin Fujita, best known for being the owner of Kentucky Derby third Forever Young (Jpn), filled the role of underbidder on the Kitasan Black top lot but fulfilled a long-held ambition of adding a pure white horse to his string when landing lot 127 for ¥190 million [€1 million].The pure white colt by Maurice (Jpn) attracted a huge amount of interest on the sales ground in recent days and Fujita revealed a hope that, given the horse's striking looks, he may one day win the hearts of Japanese racing fans. “It has been a big dream of mine to add a white horse like this to my string so I am very happy,” he said. “I was the underbidder on lot 100 and I am still regretting that I missed out on him so I am happy to have won the battle for lot 127 instead. I hope this horse can be very popular in this country. If he is good on the track, maybe one day there will be dolls of him in the fan shops.” Fujita also bought an Epiphaneia (Jpn) colt out of Irish Oaks winner Even So (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) for ¥340 million [€1.93 million]. Even So carried the Coolmore silks to victory for trainer Ger Lyons in the Irish Oaks before heading to Northern Farm. She has a Japanese-born Kingman (GB) filly in training in the country already.
  • Japanese Derby-winning owner Masahiro Noda's Danox Co Ltd. put plenty of chips back on the table in an effort to find the next Danon Decile (Jpn) (Epiphaneia {Jpn}). A colt by the same sire and out of Coasted [lot 51] was the first big-money buy from Northern Farm at ¥390 million [€2.2 million] while the owner returned to that source to secure a Kitasan Black filly [71] for ¥400 million [€2.3 million] soon afterwards. Other notable lots bought by Noda on the day included an Epiphaneia colt out of American Oaks winner Competitionofideas (Speightstown) from Shadai Farm for ¥330 million [€1.9 million].
  • Breeders' Cup Turf winner Bricks And Mortar is another stallion making waves in Japan. The five-time Grade I winner in America sent out 14 individual winners in Japan in his debut crop and has had 26 individual winners this term.Owner Kinya Komatsu is clearly a believer and forked out ¥310 million [€1.7 million] for a filly [124] by the up-and-coming stallion.
  • Epiphaneia (Jpn) ended the day as the top stallion on all of the key metrics. For 12 yearlings sold, he grossed just over the equivalent of €11.5 million at an average of €964,240.

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