Pedigree Insights: Japan


Japan | Scoop Dyga


Thanks to the victories of Anthony Van Dyck in the Derby, Circus Maximus in the St James’s Palace S. and Sovereign in the Irish Derby, the great Galileo owed three of his first five Group 1s of 2019 to granddaughters of Danehill. This suggested that time is moving on from the days when the perennial champion sire’s partnership with Danehill’s daughters was widely considered the world’s pre-eminent nick.

This nick had produced the wonderful total of 50 black-type winners–some 17% of its 303 foals–and those 50 featured the Classic winners Frankel, Intello, Golden Lilac, Roderic O’Connor and Cima de Triomphe. The cross’s first 12 Group 1 winners also included such illustrious performers as Teofilo, Highland Reel, Noble Mission and Maybe. That 17% black-type winners compares to Galileo’s overall figure of 11%.

One noticeable aspect of this success story with Danehill’s daughters was that only three of these first 12 Group 1 winners had been born after 2010, these being the Yorkshire Oaks winner Tapestry in 2011, the King George and Breeders’ Cup Turf hero Highland Reel in 2012 and the Belmont Derby winner Deauville in 2013. In other words, there had been no Galileo/Danehill Group 1 winners from the 2014 and 2015 crops and there were reasons for thinking that this marvellously successful combination was beginning to slow down. After all, Danehill’s eldest daughters were born as long ago as 1991 and his youngest in 2004, so the number still in production is declining and those that are left are now elderly.

Fortunately, last week provided several reminders of the potency of this cross. Frankel added another Group 1 winner to his collection when Veracious landed the Falmouth S., while his brother Noble Mission–already sire of the Kentucky Derby second Code of Honor–added a second very smart first crop winner when Spanish Mission took the G3 Bahrain Trophy. Not to be left out, Regal Reality’s sire Intello was responsible for Slalom, who bounced back from his disappointing Prix du Jockey-Club effort to finish a fine second after a slow start in the G1 Grand Prix de Paris.

However, the Grand Prix also provided the Galileo-Danehill nick with its 13th Group 1 winner in the shape of Japan, already an impressive winner of the G2 King Edward VII S. since his close third in the Derby. It is going to be interesting to see whether Japan can keep on improving, which is quite possible if the careers of Highland Reel and Frankel are anything to go by. Like Japan, Highland Reel enjoyed Group 2 success as a juvenile and he took a little longer to become a Group 1 winner, landing the Secretariat S. in the August of his 3-year-old season. Significantly, a further six Group 1 successes were to follow over the next few years.

It is also going to be interesting to see how many more high-class performers will emerge from Galileo’s association with Danehill’s daughters. Kind, the dam of Frankel and Noble Mission, has a yearling filly by Galileo and is hopefully pregnant again to her 2019 visit. Another Juddmonte star, Banks Hill, has a yearling brother to the Group 1-winning Romantica.

Highland Reel has a 2-year-old brother called Nobel Prize, who is also a brother to the Irish Derby second Idaho. Deauville has a yearling brother, plus a 2-year-old sister called Warrior Queen, while the precocious Maybe is the first of eight foals sired by Galileo from Sumora. The others include a 2-year-old filly called Pushkinskaya and a yearling filly, in addition to Sumora’s useful 3-year-old Barbados.

Japan is himself Galileo’s third group winner out of Shastye, who produced her sixth Galileo foal, a filly, in January this year at the age of 18. It is well documented that Shastye has proved a rare bargain since she was bought by John Warren, on behalf of Newsells Park Stud, for 625,000gns at the 2005 December Sales. Her 2012 Galileo colt, Sir Isaac Newton, sold for 3,600,000gns, and her 2015 filly Secret Gaze and 2016 colt, Japan, respectively sold for 1,350,000gns and 1,300,000gns.

Less popular was her first Galileo foal, Secret Gesture, who failed to find a buyer at 230,000gns in 2011. Secret Gesture made amends by carrying the Newsells Park colours to victory in a Newbury maiden at two and in the Lingfield Oaks Trial at three. Qatar Racing then bought into her and it was their colours which she carried when second to Talent in the 2013 Oaks. Even though a Group 1 victory eluded her during a lengthy career, Secret Gesture won the G2 Middleton S. in 2015 and it took $3,500,000 for Godolphin to buy her in 2016, in foal to War Front. She produced fillies by Dubawi in 2018 and 2019.

It could be relevant to Japan’s future that Secret Gesture raced mainly at around a mile and a quarter after her placed efforts in the Oaks and Yorkshire Oaks. It was also over a mile and a quarter that Japan’s brother Sir Isaac Newton won the Listed Wolferton H. at Royal Ascot and the G3 International S. at The Curragh.

Their dam, the listed-placed Shastye, stayed well for a daughter of Danehill, winning over a mile and a half at Lingfield and over a furlong further at Chepstow. She can thank her dam Saganeca for her stamina.

The bare bones of Saganeca’s racing record make unimpressive reading, as she retired the winner of only one of her 25 starts, with her record sounding about right for a filly who had sold twice as a yearling, for only $16,000 and $30,000.

However, the daughter of Arc winner Sagace was far, far better than those figures suggest. Her one victory had come in the G2 Prix de Royallieu at three, when she was also good enough to finish fourth in the G1 Prix Vermeille. The following year, 1992, saw Saganeca finish a close second in the G1 Gran Premio di Milano and fifth of 18, beaten under four lengths, in the G1 Arc. The compilers of the International Classifications rated her 119.

Saganeca also had the attraction of having the outstanding mare La Mirambule as her third dam. Unbeaten in three juvenile starts, La Mirambule established herself as France’s champion 3-year-old filly of 1952 by taking the Prix Vermeille by eight lengths as a prelude to her second in the Arc. La Mirambule then passed on her talent to her sons Tambourine (1962 Irish Derby) and Nasram (1964 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S.).

Eric Puerari must have found it hard to believe his luck when he was able to buy Saganeca for only $165,000 on behalf of Jean-Luc Lagardere in January 1994. Lagardere too had reason to pinch himself when Saganeca’s first four foals included the Arc-winning Sagamix, his G2 Prix de Malleret-winning sister Sage Et Jolie and the Group 1-winning Highest Honor colt Sagacity, who was third in Sakhee’s Arc de Triomphe.

Remarkably, Shastye is the third daughter of Saganeca to have produced a Group 1 winner, as Sage Et Jolie is the dam of Prix d’Ispahan winner Sageburg and Sagalina was responsible for the Prix Saint-Alary winner Sagawara.

Not a subscriber? Click here to sign up for the daily PDF or alerts.