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August 8, 2017 (Tue)

First Look: Freshman Sires in Japan

Each year in every country, first season sires do battle to earn their place in the breeding pool for years to come. Japan's two-year-olds, especially in the JRA, debut later than most other countries, with the first round of two-year-old debut races scheduled the weekend following the Japanese Derby. Two months into the two-year-old season and this year's batch of freshman sires are looking stronger than in previous years.
In order from 2010 to 2016 Leading Freshman Sires have been as follows: Deep Impact(JPN), Daiwa Major(JPN), Black Tide(JPN), Johannesburg(USA), Harbinger(GB), Victoire Pisa(JPN), and Rulership(JPN). The obvious take away from this list is Deep Impact(JPN), who has gone on to be leading sire year after year since 2012 and a stunning 30 individual G1 winners all over the world. Daiwa Major(JPN) has been another solid sire with the second most G1 winners, four winners. Black Tide(JPN) and Victoire Pisa(JPN) both have a G1 winner to their name and while Johannesburg(USA) had great success in other countries earlier in his career he hasn't be able to replicate that in Japan. Every year the industry is wondering who will be the next great sire in Japan and this year all eyes are on Lord Kanaloa(JPN) and Henny Hughes(USA).
Lord Kanaloa(JPN) was a phenomenal racehorse, and from a pedigree perspective, he ticked all the right boxes. His sire King Kamehameha(JPN) was Leading Freshman Sire in 2009, and Leading Sire in 2010 and 2011 before Deep Impact(JPN) took over. He produces G1 winners on a consistent basis on all surfaces at varying distances. He has been the go to stallion for Sunday Silence(USA) line mares since he entered stud. After a few years of breeding complications, the search for his successor was on, and he has many young sons, including 2016 Leading Freshman Sire Rulership(JPN), 2015 Japanese Derby Winner Duramente(JPN) whose first crop debuts in 2020. Both of those stallions are related via Champion race mare Air Groove(JPN) with the staying power of Tony Bin(IRE).
Lord Kanaloa(JPN) brings a unique pedigree to the Sunday Silence(USA) dominated Japanese breeding sheds with a Mr. Prospector(USA) sire line out of Storm Cat(USA) mare. Both stallions were highly influential in shaping the modern-day thoroughbred and seem perfectly personified in Lord Kanaloa(JPN). From 23 JRA runners to date he has had five winners to date from a wide variety of different broodmare sires. All of the races have been between 1200m and 1600m and all on turf, and highlight the speed of their sire. These first few winners, the many others who have hit the board over past two months and the general word of mouth of his progeny's quality has made him one of the hottest sires on the market at the sales this summer. In the coming months, as two-year-old races take over more and more of the program and distances expand, the industry will get a better grasp on how good of a sire Lord Kanaloa(JPN) might be.
The next three stallions making a meaningful impact on the freshman scene are all free of Sunday Silence(USA) blood as well and tied with three wins each in the JRA; Henny Hughes(USA), Novellist(IRE), and Eishin Flash(JPN).
Henny Hughes(USA) is a Freshman Sire by a technicality as he is the sire of Champion Distaffer Beholder(USA) and already has two G1 winners in Japan: 2013 Champion Two-Year-Old Asia Express(USA) and 2016 February Stakes winner Moanin(USA). His current success shouldn't be a surprise since ten out of the fifteen horses imported during his US stud career are winners with four graded stakes wins between them. He has proven popular at the sales and trainers are keen on his progeny. He couldn't find his footing in the shed in other countries, but Japan just might be where he put down roots and impact the breed.
While European mares seem to compliment the Sunday Silence(USA) line stallion in Japan, stallions from the region have struggled in recent years. Novellist(IRE) is attempting to bring a successful European influence into the Japanese breed like Tony Bin(IRE) before him. The ability to handle firm turf has been the downfall of many other European sires over the years, and while it is still early, the son of Monsun(GER) is starting off well.
Eishin Flash(JPN) went into the breeding shed at a bit of a disadvantage with fellow King's Best(USA) sired Workforce(GB) already starting his third season and their sire King's Best(USA) starting his second season at Stud in Japan. However, just three years later, Workforce(GB) has been sold back to Ireland, and King's Best(USA) has yet to produce a horse as good as Eishin Flash(JPN). Eishin Flash(JPN)'s progeny has shown a precocity that his two biggest rivals have not displayed, which is a major advantage in Japan.
There are still five more months and hundreds of two-year-old races to go, but it looks to be a great year for Sunday Silence(USA) free new stallions in Japan.
All four of these leading Freshmen Sires are represented by their second crop in the upcoming Hokkaido Summer Sale held in Shizunai, Hokkaido on August 21-25th.

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