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Deep Impact Making an Impact

The astonishing start to his stud career made by Japanese sire Deep Impact continued last weekend when he enjoyed a group stakes double that included a victory by his son Deep Brillante in the Japanese Derby (gr. I, video below).

Deep Impact is a son of the Halo stallion Sunday Silence, whose status as not only the greatest Japanese stallion of his era, but arguably the greatest of all time, is well established. His importance, however, goes well beyond such parochial considerations, as Sunday Silence achieved something far more significance than local domination, single-handedly raising the international standing of the Japanese-bred racehorse.

It was Sunday Silence's son Stay Gold who defeated Ekraar for the Hong Kong Vase (gr. I) to become the first Japanese-sired horse to win an international race at the highest level. Subsequently, other Sunday Silence offspring got in on the overseas act: in 2002, Sunday Joy, bred on Southern Hemisphere time, captured the Australian Oaks (gr. I); in 2005, Hat Trick (JPN) (TrueNicks,SRO) took the Hong Kong Mile (gr. I); and the following year the Sheema Classic (gr. I) fell to Heart's Cry. The stallion sons of Sunday Silence were also quick to prove thay could get runners that were effective on the world stage, their offspring winning such races as the American Oaks (gr. I), Melbourne Cup (gr. I), Sheema Classic (gr. I), and in the shape of Victoire Pisa, the 2011 Dubai World Cup (gr. I). Two of Sunday Silence's exported sons have also sired European champions: Divine Light (JPN) (TrueNicks) - who first stood in France and then Turkey - being represented by 2007 Natagora, champion European 2-year-old filly in 2007, and heroine of the English 1,000 Guineas (gr. I) the following year; and the U.S.-based Hat Trick, coming up with last year's European champIon 2-year-old colt Dabirsim in his first crop.

As indicated by the above, as a group, the Sunday Silence stallions have done very well. In fact, 10 of them have sired group or grade I winners overseas, and at least 20 individual sons have sired group or grade I winners altogether. Despite this broadly shared level of success, until recently there has remained a question as to whether Sunday Silence had left a definitive heir. This is a far-from-unique picture, and one can parallel it with the greatest European sire of the recent - or perhaps any other era - Sadler's Wells. And, just as Sadler's Wells had to wait - as far as Europe was concerned for Montjeu, and then Galileo (who arrived in his thirteenth crop) - for a true heir, so it is with Sunday Silence's potential successor, Deep Impact, who was a member of the tenth of his sire's eleven crops. Just as Sunday Silence was the best runner to represent his sire, Halo, Deep Impact was the best runner to represent Sunday Silence. More than that, however, he established himself as very possibly the best racehorse bred in Japan. A winner of 12 of 14 starts, his victories included the Japanese Triple Crown, Japan Cup (gr. I), Takarazuka Kinen (gr. I), and Spring Emperor's Cup. On his one foray outside of Japan, he was an excellent third in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe beaten a neck and 1/2 length by Rail Link and the strong-closing Pride, with Hurricane Run, Shirocco, and Sixties Icon among those behind (although he was subsequently he was disqualified for a positive test for Ipratropium).

Deep Impact's first crop are only 4-year-olds of 2012, and that crop has already yielded 10 stakes winners, eight of them group winners. The stars have been Real Impact, who captured the one-mile Yasuda Kinen (gr. I), and Marcellina, successful in the Oka Sho-Japanese 1,000 Guineas (gr. I). The group winners Danon Ballade (second Japanese 2,000 Guineas (gr. I) and Tosen Ra (third Japanese St. Leger (gr. I)) are also classic-placed, and group winner Donau Blue also took second in the Victoria Mile (gr. I). Remarkably, Deep Impact's second crop have already surpassed those efforts. Despite still only being in the spring of their 3-year-old careers, 13 of their number have already captured black-type events. With a view to the future, perhaps the most significant is Beauty Parlour, who took her record to four wins in four starts when following up a victory in the Prix de la Grotte (gr. III) with a triumph in the French 1,000 Guineas (gr. I). A sister to Barocci, a listed winner in France last term, Beauty Parlour was bred by the Wildenstein family, who sent her dam, Bastet, on two trips to Japan to visit Deep Impact. One would suspect that it is only a matter of time before more international breeders begin to follow this precedent.

On the domestic front, Deep Impact's 3-year-olds have taken three of the four classic races run in Japan in 2012. The filly Gentildonna (a sister to Donau Blue) has captured both the the Japanese 1,000 Guineas (gr. I) and Japanese Oaks (gr. I, video below). In addition to Gentildonna and Deep Brillante, Deep Impact has a third group I winner from this crop in the shape of Joie de Vivre, successful last year in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies Stakes (gr. I). The crop also includes group scorers Tosen Homareboshi, World Ace, Verxina (second to Gentidonna in the both the 1,000 Guineas and Oaks), Historical, Real Deal, and Adam's Peak.

Out of the group I-winning Alzao mare Wind in Her Hair, Deep Impact has an outcross pedigree at five generations (although like any Sunday Silence with Northern Dancer in the dam, he has Almahmoud as granddam of both Northern Dancer and Halo). We can also note the combination of Halo and the similarly-bred Sir Ivor (broodmare sire of Alzao) 2x4, and Deep Impact is one of 19 Sunday Silence line stakes winners with Sir Ivor in the dam. A product of the Sunday Silence/Northern Dancer cross, Deep Impact has already begun to prove very effective when bred back over Northern Dancer line mares. Beauty Parlour and Barocci are out of a mare by Giant's Causeway (TrueNicks,SRO) (by Storm Cat), and has another cross of Halo through Giant's Causeway's broodmare sire, Rahy, who is out of the Halo mare Glorious Song. Gentildonna and Donau Blue are out of Donna Blini, a daughter of the Danzig horse Bertolini (he is a three-parts-brother to Green Desert, who as a Northern Dancer/Sir Ivor cross, might also go well here). Donna Blini's dam is by Lyphard's Special, giving a double of Lyphard. This duplication already appears in at least seven of Deep Impact's stakes winners, including Deep Brillante (fourth dam by Lyphard), Smart Robin (out of a mare by Lyphard), and Aquamarine (out of a mare by Alzao, so having that horse 3x2).

Marcellina is out of the Prix d'Astarte (gr. I) winner Marbye, a daughter of Marju (by Last Tycoon), who is bred on a parallel Northern Dancer/Sir Gaylord cross to Alzao. Similarly, Joie de Vivre and her brother Tosen Reve, are out of top-class runner Biwa Heidi, a daughter of Caerleon (by Nijinsky II) and a Lord Gayle mare, so another Northern Dancer/Sir Gaylord cross. From mares by Northern Dancer's son Northern Taste - who preceded Sunday Silence as the dominant sire in Japan - Deep Impact has graded winners Tosen Homareboshi and Historical. Two of Deep Impact's stakes winners are out of mares from the Nureyev line: Best Deal from a daughter of Marchand de Sable (by Theatrical), and Frere Jacques out of a daughter of Nureyev himself. From the sire line of Sadler's Wells (reverse Northern Dancer/Hail to Reason cross to Deep Impact), Deep Impact is sire of Adam's Peak, who is out of a mare by Singspiel (out of Glorious Song, by Halo, so a reverse Northern Dancer/Halo cross to Deep Impact). Boreas, the other Deep Impact stakes winner out of a Northern Dancer line mare, is from a daughter of French Deputy (from the Deputy Minister line).

Deep Impact has also begun to work well with Mr. Prospector line mares. His twice classic-placed daughter Verxina is particularly interesting in this regard. She is out of a mare by Machiavellian (dam by Halo), and her third dam is Halo's champion daughter Glorious Song (Verxina, therefore has Halo 3x4x5 (along with a cross of the similarly-bred Sir Ivor), and Northern Dancer 5x4, along with a half-sister to that horse, for a total of six crosses of Almahmoud. A similarly intriguing pedigree is owned by Tosen Ra (a half brother to Flower Alley (TrueNicks,SRO), sire of I'll Have Another) who is out of a mare by Lycius, with a second dam by Sadler's Wells. As mentioned, she is inbred by 4x4 to Lyphard, and her third dam is a half sister to that horse. Danon Ballade, out of an Unbridled mare, is also inbred 3x3 to Halo, and her second dam, Angelic Song, is a sister to Glorious Song, who we've already seen in the dams of Deep Impact stakes winners through her sons Rahy and Singspiel. Deep Impact also has stakes winner Para la Salud out of the Chilean-bred Tanta Suerte, who is a daughter of Stuka (by Jade Hunter, a Mr. Prospector/Lypard cross), with a second dam by Stagecraft, a Sadler's Wells son who brings in another Lyphard cross.

Deep Impact has also enjoyed success with some strains less commonly found in Japan. His first group I-winning son, Real Impact, is out of a mare by Meadowlake. The cross of Halo line stallions over Meadowlake mares has produced four graded/group winners, and not only gives linebreeding to Nothirdchance (dam of Hail to Reason), but brings together Halo and Prince John (out of a half sister to Halo's broodmare sire, Cosmic Bomb). Prince John appears in three other Deep Impact stakes winners, including Deep Brillante, who is out of a mare by Loup Sauvage, a son of Riverman. Deep Brillante's second dam is by Akarad, a grandson of Busted, sire of the second dam of Deep Impact. Far more of an outcross is World Ace, who is out of Mandela, an Acatenango half sister to Manduro. The same is true of Ardent, a 3-year-old black type winner who is out of a daughter of Kaldoun, a son of Caro.

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It seems to me like Japan's racehorses are way too oversaturated with Sunday Silence blood. The same can be said for America. Too much Storm Cat....too much Mr. Prospector......Studding,whether in harness or thoroughbred,should have a responsible "limit"to a studs offspring each year.  (say "60"!)....sorry all you syndicate owners! I doubt this will happen, since money knows no boundaries.

tjconway 01 Jun 2012 12:54 AM

Sunday Silence is my favourite race horse.  I could never understand why the Americans let him go.  No one wanted him as a yearling or as a stallion.  He is very special and I am thrilled that his sons will guarantee his legacy of tenancity and toughness.

Opalisa 01 Jun 2012 7:39 AM

I agree tjconway...It begs the question, how did the sire King Kamehameha(Kingmambo) totally dominate on Japan's sire list the last few years? Not to mention Kurofune(French Deputy) and Symboli Kris S in the top 4 in Japan as well. Could anybody answer this question? What is the percentage of stallions standing in Japan that are sons of Sunday Silence? I'd love to know this answer, it looks like to me somewhere in the 80%-90% range are sons of SS? Do any pedigree experts see a problem with this?

ThoroGreats 01 Jun 2012 10:58 AM

Thanks for this informative piece on Deep Impact. When a best racing son of a best sire becomes himself an elite sire, this adds to the "romance" of the sport. I had planned to add a bit more to this seemingly fortuitous circumstance, but tjconway's remarks of warning may be more deserving of focus.-

Through the years I've read various studies wherein some conclude that the thoroughbred is too highly homogeneous whereas others refute this concern. Some today point to the former as a chief reason for many of racing's ails. While I tend to disagree with that cause/effect feature, I am concerned about other potential negative consequences resulting from a limited stallion pedigree base. I've also read studies on pedigreed dog breeds, and while we tend to reject them as being not sufficiently analagous to the thoroughbred, I feel we may be mistaken in not considering their relevance albeit, perhaps, to a lesser degree. To that end, allow me to suggest readers go to "Popular Sire Effect" on Wiki and then to their #4 citation, which is "Population Structure and Inbreeding From Pedigree Analysis Of Purebred Dogs". Take particular notice of the remarks in the beginning Abstract which states "...For all but three breeds, greater than 90% of unique genetic variants are lost over six generations."...One might argue that today's level of genetic knowledge remains still too lacking for us to consider restricting the #s of mares/stallion, or other "rules" of this sort. On the other hand, we have already engaged in the practice of selective breeding, which itself is a form of genetic "tinkering". Since we've already began down that path, might mare/stallion restrictions be but another "tool" in selective breeding-? longer view vs shorter view approach? Would tinkering such as this impose a greater risk (to the breed)-owing to our lack of comprehensive genetic knowledge or, rather, be a step toward our acknowledgment of this fact?    

sceptre 01 Jun 2012 11:11 AM

In the Japanese Derby, only one horse of the 18 entries did not have Sunday Silence in their bloodline. 14 runners had Sunday Silence as their grandsire via Deep Impact with 7; Stay Gold with 2, and 5 others; 3 runners had Sunday Silence as the Dam’s Sire. They really love their Sunday in Japan, and while I'm a huge fan of his, it does give one pause to wonder at the advisability of so much of a good thing.  And, is it too much? Besides the obvious speed, does the SS brand and his sons throw off horses that are sound as well as fast?  Or is the jury still out on that?

Deltalady 02 Jun 2012 2:21 AM

I seem to recall that Deep Impact booked to above 200 mares his initial year at stud. I imagine he had a similar book the following year. How many foals has he had in each crop? 10 SWs or 8 group winners out of 200 foals is not a great percentage. I want to see a few more crops before I declare him a top sire.  

Pedigree Ann 02 Jun 2012 12:49 PM

Does Mr. Porter answer any questions? I was just wondering, as I asked in my previous comment, what % of stallions in Japan are sons of Sunday Silence? To me, it looks like an extremely high %. Considering this, you got to give a lot of credit to the sire King Kamehameha for dominating the sires in Jpn for the last few years.

ThoroGreats 04 Jun 2012 10:47 AM

If we look at the Leading Sire list for 2011 in Japan, of the top ten, six - Deep Impact, Manhattan Cafe, Stay Gold,  Fuji Kiseki, Neo Universe, Agnes Tachyon - were by Sunday Silence.

However, the top three were King Kamehameha (Kingmambo), Kurofune (French Deputy) and Symboli Kris S (Kris S), the other non Sunday Silence horse being Jungle Pocket (Tony Bin).

At rough estimate, it looks as if around 25% of the stallion population is by Sunday Silence (more with grandsons), and a higher proportion of the leading sires.

We have to remember, though, that Sunday Silence sons and grandsons don't have the benefit of covering daughters and grandaughters of Sunday Silence, so don't have access to some of the best mares.

What's really happen with Sunday Silence up until now is that he has had a lot of good stallion sons without an outstanding one, so although they have done very well as a group, as an individual King Kamehameha has probably been better than any of them (at least up until the emergence of Deep Impact). The "saturation" situations have a way of working themselves out. For example, sons and grandsons of Bold Ruler - as a group - were a dominant force in the U.S. at one stage, but he never left that one definitive heir, and now the sire line has more or less come down to Seattle Slew/A.P. Indy.

Alan Porter 04 Jun 2012 2:42 PM

Deep Impact has been doing very well and I am very interested in seeing how his daughter Beauty Parlour will

perform in the French Oaks at Chantilly to-morrow as she was

a convincing winner of the French 1000 Guineas and her jockey,Soumillon has been comparing her to some good fillies

he has ridden including the Arc winner Zakarva.

John T 16 Jun 2012 9:37 PM

Beauty Parlour took the lead in the final furlong of the

French Oaks and looked the winner until Johnny Murtagh got

a good response out of Valyra to win by three parts of a length.She is by Azamour whom Murtagh enjoyed many big race

wins with.As Beauty Parlour is so highly thought of she certainly deserves another chance at this level.

John T 17 Jun 2012 10:20 PM

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