Sunday Silence's amazing Impact

  • By John Boyce

The success of Saxon Warrior in this year’s 2,000 Guineas and his favouritism for the Derby has really put the focus on his hugely successful sire Deep Impact. True enough, the son of Sunday Silence has enjoyed intermittent success in Europe but the policy adopted in recent years by Coolmore to send some of their top mares to Hokkaido has taken interest in the Japan Triple Crown winner to a whole new level.

Deep Impact is an intriguing stallion but cannot be fully assessed through his European runners. A far clearer picture emerges when comparing his exploits with other Japanese stallions, no more so than the high standards set in Japan by his own sire, the phenomenal Sunday Silence. A near-black son of Halo, Sunday Silence first went before the public at the Keeneland July Sale in 1987 where he failed to sell at only $17,000. He again failed to find a new home as a two-year-old in training in California the following year. 

Whatever put off potential buyers certainly didn’t stop him reaching racing’s pinnacle. But for a defeat at the hands of Easy Goer in the Belmont Stakes, we would have witnessed the first Triple Crown winner to go on to land the Breeders’ Cup Classic, a feat that would take another quarter of a century to achieve through American Pharaoh. Sunday Silence’s conformation also precluded a career at his owner’s Stone Farm where his sire had stood. 

Easy Goer thwarts Sunday Silence’s Triple Crown bid in the Belmont Stakes.

Easy Goer thwarts Sunday Silence’s Triple Crown bid in the Belmont Stakes.

America’s loss was definitely Japan’s gain. Before his death in 2002, Sunday Silence sired 169 Stakes winners which amounts to 11.9% of his runners. Considering that the ratio of black-type racing in Japan is very low compared with other countries, this percentage of winners to runners is a truly world-class achievement. And when we look at what Sunday Silence’s best son has achieved we can truly appreciate his sire’s numbers. 

So far, Deep Impact has sired 112 Stakes winners, which puts him on 10% Stakes winners to runners. Granted, he will have several as yet-undiscovered Stakes winners amongst younger runners, which will boost his ratio still further. By way of a modern-day comparison, King Kamehameha, one of Deep Impact’s most successful contemporaries, sires 5% Stakes winners to runners.

Perhaps the most astonishing fact when comparing Sunday Silence with his son is the opportunity figure. The Kentucky Derby winner Sunday Silence achieved his 11.9% Stakes winners to runners from mares that managed only 4% with other stallions. The Japan Triple Crown and Japan Cup hero Deep Impact has had access to far superior mares than his sire had. With all other sires, the dams of Deep Impact’s runners have produced 7.3% Stakes winners to runners, which is nearly three percentage points lower than what Deep Impact achieves. 

These figures are echoed by average earnings index. Sunday Silence scores 2.55 compared with his mares’ 1.71 from other sires. Deep Impact, meanwhile, is posting a massive 3.61 which is still ahead of his 2.66 comparable index. It is no mean feat to outscore such a high comparable index. After all, it is very difficult to improve the output from what are already elite mares. To put it in perspective the great Sadler’s Wells had an AEI of 2.98 from mares that recorded 3.02 with other sires and his 13% Stakes winners were produced from mares that bred 12% with other sires. 

DEEP IMPACT'S G1 WINNERS
Horse Born Sex Dam Broodmare Sire MWD
A SHIN HIKARI 2011 C CATALINA W STORM CAT 10
AL AIN 2014 C DUBAI MAJESTY G1w ESSENCE OF DUBAI 10
AYUSAN 2010 F BUY THE CAT W STORM CAT 8
BEAUTY PARLOUR  2009 F BASTET LRwG3p GIANT'S CAUSEWAY 8
DANON PLATINA 2012 C Badeelah UR UNBRIDLED'S SONG 8
DANON PREMIUM 2015 C INDIANA GAL LRwG3p INTIKHAB 10
DANON SHARK 2008 C CARLA POWER W CAERLEON 9
DEE MAJESTY 2013 C Hermes Tiara UR BRIAN'S TIME 11
DEEP BRILLANTE 2009 C LOVE AND BUBBLES G3w LOUP SAUVAGE 12
GENTILDONNA 2009 F DONNA BLINI G1w BERTOLINI 12.5
HARP STAR 2011 F Historic Star UR FALBRAV 10
JOIE DE VIVRE 2009 F BIWA HEIDI LRw CAERLEON 8
JOUR POLAIRE 2013 F SUMMER NIGHT CITY W HELISSIO 9
KEIAI NAUTIQUE 2015 C KEIAI GERBERA G3w SMARTY JONES 8
KIZUNA 2010 C Catequil P STORM CAT 12
LACHESIS 2010 F MAGIC STORM G2wG1p STORM CAT 11
MAKAHIKI 2013 C WIKIWIKI W FRENCH DEPUTY 12
MARCELLINA 2008 F MARBYE G1w MARJU 10
MARIALITE 2011 F CHRYSOPRASE W EL CONDOR PASA 12.5
MIKKI ISLE 2011 C STAR ISLE W ROCK OF GIBRALTAR 8
MIKKI QUEEN 2012 F MUSICAL WAY G2wG1p GOLD AWAY 12
REAL IMPACT 2008 C TOKIO REALITY W MEADOWLAKE 8
REAL STEEL 2012 C Loves Only Me UR STORM CAT 9
SATONO ALADDIN 2011 C MAGIC STORM G2wG1p STORM CAT 10
SATONO ARES 2014 C SATONO AMAZONES W DANEHILL 9
SATONO DIAMOND 2013 C MALPENSA G1w ORPEN 15
SAXON WARRIOR 2015 C MAYBE G1w GALILEO 8
SHONAN ADELA 2012 F ALWAYS WILLING W ELUSIVE QUALITY 8
SHONAN PANDORA 2011 F Cutie Gold P FRENCH DEPUTY 12
SINHALITE 2013 F SINGHALESE G1w SINGSPIEL 12
SPIELBERG 2009 C PRINCESS OLIVIA W LYCIUS 10
TOSEN RA 2008 C PRINCESS OLIVIA W LYCIUS 11
TOSEN STARDOM 2011 C ADMIRE KIRAMEKI W END SWEEP 10
VERXINA 2009 F HALWA SWEET W MACHIAVELLIAN 10
VIVLOS 2013 F HALWA SWEET W MACHIAVELLIAN 10

So, on the basis of all these figures, we have to conclude that Deep Impact is getting to the same level as his great sire when it comes to the ability to produce elite Japanese racehorses, albeit from better opportunities, and one wonders what he’d have achieved if he were based outside Japan where access to black-type races is easier?

We also have to factor the potential negative effect of the overwhelming success of Sunday Silence in Japan where many elite mares now carry his blood and are therefore unavailable to Deep Impact as potential mates. It is no surprise therefore that the vast majority of Deep Impact’s 35 Group 1 winners are out of international mares imported to Japan.

Shadai Farm’s superstar, Deep Impact.

Shadai Farm’s superstar, Deep Impact.

Amongst his contemporaries, Deep Impact is absolutely dominant. Assessed by the percentage of 100-plus rated horses on the World Thoroughbred Rankings leaves us under no illusions as to the dominance of Shadai Farm’s superstar. His score of 18.4% is more than double that of all other sires with 150 or more starters that retired after 1998 with the exception of Kingmambo’s outstanding sire son King Kamehameha. 

With the exciting prospect of the undefeated Group 1 2,000 Guineas hero Saxon Warrior to look forward to this year in Europe, we can expect to see more non-Japan foaled runners on our racecourses in the years to come. Then there’s the prospect of another unbeaten colt, Danon Premium, attempting to win the Japanese Derby having missed the Japanese 2,000 Guineas due to a bruised foot. I wonder what are the chances of an Epsom Derby-Tokyo Yushun double for Deep Impact this summer?

About the author

John Boyce

John Boyce grew up on a stud farm and is a bloodstock journalist and former editor of Pacemaker and of The Thoroughbred Breeder. He has been part of the Darley/Godolphin team since 2001 as Group Marketing Head and then Group Head of Research. He is currently responsible for stallion and broodmare analysis to help the organisation’s stud, sales and marketing teams.

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