Big in Japan - and now everywhere else too: Deep Impact and co go global
James Thomas looks at a seismic shift in the stallion ranks
The bloodstock world might never have felt smaller than it has over the last seven days. Despite the sirepower available in Europe and the US, a trio of major races at Newmarket, Churchill Downs and Saint-Cloud have gone the way of the progeny of stallions born, bred and standing in Japan.
Saxon Warrior, a son of Deep Impact, kicked things off when he rewarded Coolmore's bold breeding strategy with an impressive victory in the 2,000 Guineas on Saturday. The Aidan O'Brien-trained colt is the second foal out of Maybe, a daughter of Galileo who landed the Moyglare Stud Stakes.
Instead of sending Maybe to one of their tried and tested outcross stallions, the likes of War Front or Fastnet Rock, Coolmore exported her to Japan in 2013, where she was bred to Deep Impact for the first time. The result of that initial mating was the Listed-placed Pavlenko. Bred to Deep Impact for a second time in 2014, her second went on to become Saxon Warrior.
The Classic hero may be only the start of Coolmore's association with Deep Impact, as the high-achieving and/or well-related Galileo mares Minding, Winter, Fluff, Promise To Be True and Best In The World are all in foal to the son of Sunday Silence this year.
Later on Saturday the Japanese stallion ranks landed a major blow at Churchill Downs when Yoshida, a four-year-old son of Deep Impact's studmate Heart's Cry, landed the Grade 1 Old Forester Turf Classic Stakes.
The colt, owned by a partnership that includes the China Horse Club and WinStar Farm, was bought as a weanling through John McCormack at the 2015 Japan Racing Horse Association (JRHA) Select Sale for ¥94 million (£636,980/€726,160).
He was acquired from the draft of Northern Farm, owned by the Yoshida family - from whom the colt takes his name.
Completing the recent hat-trick for Japanese sires was Deep Impact's son Study Of Man, who ran out an easy winner of the Group 2 Prix Greffulhe - a recognised Derby trial that has previously been won by the likes of Cloth Of Stars and Pour Moi - at Saint-Cloud on Tuesday.
The three-year-old was bred by the Niarchos family out of Second Happiness, a placed daughter of Storm Cat who has twice visited Deep Impact, as well as the family's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Bago - who stood at the Japan Bloodhorse Breeders Association - and Shadai Stallion Station resident Neo Universe.
Unlike Saxon Warrior and Yoshida, Study Of Man does not carry the JPN suffix, as his dam returned to Europe in 2014 with the colt in utero. Second Happiness has twice visited Galileo since leaving Japan, and has a two-year-old filly by the sire, named Tiki, in training with Pascal Bary.
Saxon Warrior, Yoshida and Study Of Man are the product of intrepid breeding or buying missions, and while their quickfire treble is noteworthy in itself, the lengths their owners have gone to could well have ramifications that extend far beyond the racecourse.
Saxon Warrior is now odds-on to maintain his unbeaten record in the Derby and is being talked up as a potential Triple Crown contender. Whatever he goes on to achieve while in training, as a Classic-winning son of a breed-shaping stallion the likelihood is that, should he remain hale and hearty, he will become the first truly top-class son of Deep Impact to take up stud duty in Europe.
"This opens up so many avenues for us now – the fact we have a different sire-line, the Sunday Silence and Halo line coming through. It's very, very exciting," commented Coolmore's Kevin Buckley in the aftermath of Saxon Warrior's 2,000 Guineas success.
Similar comments apply to Study Of Man and the Bill Mott-trained Yoshida, who has the Queen Anne Stakes in his sights and could thus emulate his sire by running at Ascot (Heart's Cry finished a close third to Hurricane Run in the King George). Both hold obvious stallion potential the world over as high-achieving colts from good families.
"Some of the partners would be very interested in going," said Mott about the prospect of running Yoshida at Royal Ascot. "If he could run well over there, of course, it would increase his value as a stallion because he could do dual-hemisphere."
Indeed, Europe and the US already have some catching up to do when it comes to embracing Japanese bloodlines with Mikki Isle and Real Impact, both Grade 1-winning sons of Deep Impact, and Maurice, a champion son of Screen Hero, all having covering seasons under their belt at John Messara's Arrowfield Stud in Australia.
The Victoria-based Woodside Park Stud will also welcome Tosen Stardom - another top-level winner by Deep Impact - to its roster for 2018.
Perhaps the most obvious reason for Japanese blood not having taken root in Europe sooner is that relatively few runners from those sire-lines have competed outside of their native land.
A Shin Hikari, a son of Deep Impact again, won the 2016 Prix d'Ispahan, but was campaigned by Japanese connections and returned home after his Royal Ascot flop later that year.
Beauty Parlour, also by the son of Sunday Silence, landed the 2012 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches but has been represented by just one runner since retiring to the paddocks, the three-year-old Dubawi colt Being There, who was well held in a 7½f handicap at Chester on Thursday.
But with Japanese pedigrees looking set to gain a surer footing on these shores over the coming years, it looks well worth keeping a close eye on any other runners that can increase their impact.
Chief among the names to note is September, a daughter of Deep Impact and Peeping Fawn who looked every inch a Classic candidate before injury caused her to miss the 1,000 Guineas. She remains a single-figure price for the Oaks.
There are also a handful of unraced two- and three-year-olds scattered across Europe who, on paper at least, boast eye-catching profiles.
Among the unraced horses to look out for are a pair of three-year-old Heart's Cry fillies registered with Weatherbys as being in training with William Haggas. They are Saint Diana - who fetched ¥76m (£514,245/€587,380) at the 2015 JRHA Select Sale - and Heart Of Grace - a ¥41m purchase. Both were bought by Silvestro Thoroughbreds.
There are also a handful of Deep Impact two-year-olds registered as being in training in France, namely the Wertheimer brothers' homebred trio of Carvali, Muette and Takuendo.
There are, according to France Galop, also three Deep Impact yearlings in France, including a filly out of Royalmania who was also bred by the Wertheimers.
The other two, however, highlight how keen many more global racing superpowers are to invest in Deep Impact, as Al Shaqab have bred a colt out of the Listed-placed Invincible Spirit mare Shagah and a filly out of the Park Hill Stakes third Asyad, a daughter of New Approach.
The numbers may be few, but with some of the biggest operators in Europe investing in Japanese bloodlines there should be a steady stream of blue-blooded imports leaving Japan for new frontiers over the coming years.
Three winners may seem like a small sample size on which to base a bold prediction, but just how deep an impact Saxon Warrior, Yoshida and Study Of Man can make should not be underestimated.
If you enjoyed this story you may also be interested in...