Looking Inside Yoshida's 'Jewel Box'

by Michele MacDonald

   Tucked away on a quiet corner of Shadai Farm on Japan’s island of Hokkaido is a broodmare barn known as “Terry’s Jewel Box.”

     When a visitor to Teruya Yoshida’s more than 1,200-acre nursery gets a peek inside this barn, the meaning of the nickname is immediately clear. The mares who live here are all gems of the rarest kind, grade or group I winners or producers from around the globe, including the United States.

     They are all celebrities of the female equine kind; their names are familiar to anyone who follows racing and many of them have cost Yoshida more than $1 million.

     As they are led out one by one to have their photos taken, the power of the Yoshida brothers in today’s Thoroughbred industry becomes increasingly clear. For several years, both Teruya and his younger brother, Katsumi, have been buying the crème dela crème of mares at auction and privately as they pursue their goal of breeding racehorses that will be the best in the world.

     Among the many young residents of the jewel box is Pennsylvania-bred Sahpresa, a now seven-year-old daughter of Sahm and the Pleasant Tap mare Sorpresa who traveled to France as a juvenile. From there, she embarked on a European career capped by three consecutive victories in the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes (Eng-gr. I) from 2009-2011, six placings in group I races in Japan, Hong Kong and France, and earnings of more than $2 million.

Photo by Michele MacDonald
Order This Photo

      Sahpresa is one of the more than two dozen mares that Teruya Yoshida has sent this season to first-season Shadai Stallion Station headliner Victoire Pisa, who scored Japan’s most significant victory in international competition when he won the $10 million Emirates Airline Dubai World Cup (UAE-gr. I) last year.

Victoire Pisa
Photo by Michele MacDonald
Order This Photo

     “He has gotten about 160 mares this year in his first season, and I sent many good ones to him,” Yoshida said. “He is an internationally proven racehorse and he is going to have a good chance (at stud).”  

     Another of the mares in the jewel box who is in foal to Victoire Pisa, a son of Neo Universe bred by Yoshida who earned titles as Japanese champion male in both his three- and four-year-old seasons, is Princess Olivia, the dam of I’ll Have Another’s sire Flower Alley.

Princess Olivia
Photo by Michele MacDonald
Order This Photo

      An $825,000 Keeneland November purchase in 2005, Princess Olivia already has produced in Japan the stakes-winning full brothers by Deep Impact named Tosen Ra, a Japanese classic-placed earner of more than $1.8 million, and Spielberg, a three-year-old who has banked more than $618,000 to date.

      Other gleaming jewels in Yoshida’s barn include a trio of group I winners, all bred for the first time this year and now in foal to Deep Impact, who currently is the world’s leading sire by progeny earnings with his oldest offspring just four. They are:

•    Lily of the Valley, by Galileo, winner of seven consecutive races in France, including the 2010 Prix de l’Opera (gr. I) over Stacelita, who went on to become America’s champion turf female last year. Stacelita may well wind up in the jewel box herself as she also was acquired late last year by Yoshida, who opted to breed her to Smart Strike in Kentucky this season;

•    Dubawi Heights, by Dubawi, who won the 2011 Gamely (gr. I) and Yellow Ribbon (gr. I) Stakes in California and was a $1.6 million acquisition at last year’s Fasig-Tipton November sale, and

Dubawi Heights
Photo by Michele MacDonald
Order This Photo

•    French champion Sarafina, a daughter of Refuse To Bend bred and raced by the Aga Khan who won three group I events including the Prix de Diane (French Oaks). In just her fifth career start, she finished third against males as a three-year-old in the 2010 Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (gr. I), behind only Epsom Derby (Eng-gr. I) winner Workforce, who just completed his first season with about 150 mares at the Shadai Stallion Station, and Japan’s Nakayama Festa, by Sunday Silence’s international group I winner and now top Japanese sire Stay Gold. In separate races last year, Sarafina defeated eventual Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. I) hero St Nicholas Abbey and British Champion Stakes (gr. I) winner Cirrus des Aigles, and she banked more than $2.2 million.

Photo by Michele MacDonald
Order This Photo

       While the jewels are brilliant sparklers, Yoshida’s vast mare holdings also include many other stars in many other Shadai barns. It is much the same at Katsumi Yoshida’s Northern Farm, where the likes of Horse of the Year Azeri, champion Stardom Bound, Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) winner Wonder Lady Anne L, Ashland Stakes (gr. I) winner Lilacs and Lace, Eclipse Award finalist Hilda’s Passion and numerous others reside, but that is a story for another day.

       All told, the Shadai Group consisting of Shadai and Northern Farms and the Oiwake Farm of youngest brother Haruya Yoshida, as well as their jointly-held Shiraoi Farm, maintains about 1,500 mares.

       Here is a brief sampling of some of Teruya Yoshida’s many other Shadai jewels and their status after the breeding season:

•    Dalicia, dam of Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Animal Kingdom, produced a colt this year by Yoshida-bred Heart’s Cry, another international group I winner by Sunday Silence, and is back in foal to Deep Impact;

Dalicia, dam of Animal Kingdom, and her 2012 colt by Heart's Cry
Photo by Michele MacDonald
Order This Photo

•    Laragh, a daughter of Tapit who won the 2008 Hollywood Starlet Stakes (gr. I), foaled a colt by Deep Impact in March and is back in foal to him;

Laragh and her 2012 colt by Deep Impact
Photo by Michele MacDonald
Order This Photo

•    Ollagua, a daughter of Pure Prize who was twice a champion in her native Argentina and won five group I races, delivered a filly by Smart Strike on Valentine’s Day and is now in foal to Stay Gold;

•    Canadian grade I and English group I winner Serious Attitude, by Mtoto, a $1.85 million purchase at Fasig-Tipton in 2010, is in foal to Deep Impact after producing her first foal, a Zenno Rob Roy colt, this year;

•    2010 Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes (gr. I) winner Ave, a $1.4-million Keeneland January purchase, delivered her first foal, a Deep Impact colt, on April 1;

•    Gabby’s Golden Gal, winner of the 2009 Acorn Stakes (gr. I) and a $1.25-million acquisition at Fasig-Tipton in 2010, had her first foal, a filly by Heart’s Cry, in April;

•    Dynaformer’s daughter Gozzip Girl, winner of the 2009 American Oaks Invitational Stakes (gr. I), this spring delivered a black colt by Deep Impact, her first foal;

•    Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (French One Thousand Guineas) (Fr-gr. I) winner Rose Gypsy, by Green Desert, was bred to Victoire Pisa after foaling a Zenno Rob Roy filly;

•    Oaks d’Italia (Ity-gr. I) winner Dionisia, by Tejano Run, was also sent to Victoire Pisa following the death of her 2012 foal by Deep Impact;

•    Gazelle Handicap (gr. I) winner Buy the Sport, by Devil’s Bag, a $1.4 million purchase at the 2007 Keeneland November sale, visited Victoire Pisa after foaling a colt by Neo Universe in February that sold for $765,432 at the Japan Racing Horse Association sale in July, and

•    Air Thule, dam of 2008 Japanese classic winner Captain Thule, was bred to Victoire Pisa after foaling a Deep Impact filly in April.



Leave a Comment:

Love 'em all

Another wonderful treat from Michele!  I'm so impressed reading about all these lovely "jewels" and enjoying the gorgeous pictures.    

Congrats and best wishes to the Yoshida brothers ... and to their staff.  Such a beautiful place for all.

07 Aug 2012 10:47 AM
Cowboy Adventure

Thanks for the update; I remember watching Gabby's Golden Gal and Laragh rate in LA.  I thought this farm also had Stardom Bound - is she not there? If so do you have any news on her? I know she had a beautiful Big Brown baby! I hope they are both okay...

07 Aug 2012 2:34 PM

Wow:  I love the updates!!  I am always sad when horses go to Japan, sort of the Bermuda Triangle...no longer!  Laragh was wonderful, and glad to see Gozzip Girl, an old fave!

Any info about Empire Maker?  I wonder if any familiar mares are in foal to him?

07 Aug 2012 9:18 PM

The Japanese were disappointed with their progress in the decades when they were most prominent buying great stallion prospects for Japanese mares.

I wonder if this is a rethink: now they're importing great mares for Japanese stallions. If you think about it, the difference in quality between the top stallions at stud and the middle levels are not that glaring: all of them are likely to be good-looking, well-bred graded stakes winners.

The difference between these mares and the median broodmare is immense by comparison.

I think they're on to something.

08 Aug 2012 2:35 AM
Karen in Texas

'Jewel Box' indeed! What an impressive roster of mares in Japan! Thanks for the photos as well--all the horses appear fit and happy.

08 Aug 2012 12:05 PM

Just wondering why we don't see foreign buyers buying at the Japanese weanling and yearling sales--- do they exclude them or is it just a longtime stigma or perception that Japanese stock is inferior? Obviously it is no longer inferior... as I recall though the JRA does ban foreigners from racing there, or did [except for big invitational races like Japan Cup etc.]. Even the mighty Darley and Coolmore settled in Australia and only recently do they have a stud farm presence in Japan, as I understand it.

Places like the Yoshida brothers'studs, Big Red Farm, and a handful of others are now truly showplaces equal to the good ones in Kentucky...  

08 Aug 2012 1:54 PM
Brown brother

The weanlings from dalicia and large look amazing and amazingly precocious. Tell us In a couple or three years if they can run.

09 Aug 2012 9:21 PM
Claudia Canouse

How wonderful to hear of these classy mares finding a retirement to the stud at such a Jewel of a Farm as Shadai! May they be blessed with long and productive lives. Thanks to Teruya Yoshida for being their good shepard.

12 Aug 2012 12:38 AM

Horse fans need to read this list of female superstars from Japan.  There is a bias here in the States, especially among older fans, that Japanese horses are somehow inferior horses, and that horses being shipped to Japan means that those horses are also somehow inferior as well, when nothing could be farther from the truth.  When you look at the list of Horse of the Year winners in each category over the last 35 years or so, you will find that a majority of those champion, top of the line horses wind up being bred in Japan.  All of our best horses have been systematically going to Japan and Europe to breed for over three decades.  Makes you stop and think why the American breeding industry has let that continue to happen.  The Japanese have shown great business sense as well as excellent breeding acumen in the acquisition of our best horses.

Look at this list of mares.  All classy horses.  The prominent male stock they have been  bringing in since Sunday Silence now has very classy horses to mate with, and they are creating beautiful, strong, champion horses.  I think the Japanese are on to something here, and soon they will have an incredibly superior crop of horses, superior because this group will all have stamina bred into them as well as a knack for great speed.  American breeders have weakened their own stock breeding for precociousness and speed, and are they running around with their heads up their behinds, pretending there isn't a problem, rejecting excellent champion horses that could vastly improve their bloodlines and the heartiness of their horses.

Instead, the American breeders are stupidly catering to the "Flavor of the Month" crowd, who want a horse with a quick payoff, creating fragile horses, which is a horrible disservice to the horse, expecting them to win races at lengths they are not even capable of winning.  Breeding for stamina as well as speed creates a far more superior horse, which enables those horses to run in, and win, Classic races, Triple Crowns, and race at a championship, competitive level far beyond their 5th year of racing.  Which will earn the owners of these horses far more money & profit in the long run.

What the American racing industry needs to be doing is to stop looking down their collective noses at Japanese, British and foreign horses with a superiority they no longer have a right to claim or feel, and find the breeding lessons in the events of the last 35 years, address them, then work to improve them in a hurry before it is too late to try to correct their mistakes.  They're making the horses suffer with unnecessary injuries and pain simply because they are too stiff-necked to admit they've been doing things all wrong in the American breeding industry.

Sorry about the rant, everyone.  I'm kind of passionate about this subject. The Japanese are going in the right direction when it comes to breeding, they get it, and I just wish American breeders would wake up and follow suit and at least try to make an attempt to save this industry.  It used to be an industry that was well-loved and had a huge fan base.  There's no reason why it can't be again if they would just learn how to get out of their own way!

13 Aug 2012 1:37 AM
Kid Crepello


Great article. I am wondering if you have any info on the Irish-bred mare "Serious Attitude" who was purchased by Shadai at the FT, Nov. 2010 sale. Offspring? Their racing records, etc. Thanks.

15 Apr 2014 3:24 PM

Recent Posts

More Blogs