Japan Boosts Stallion Book With New Imports

November 24, 2019

California Chrome Taylor Made Farm.Taylor Gilkey photo

Fans react to California Chrome’s expatriation on social media

Breeding Thoroughbreds is big business that spreads across many continents. If you are a pedigree hawk, you’re familiar with the two or three letters following a horse’s name representing their country of birth. It’s rare to find a horse with five generations of all U.S. horses. Many will be from Great Britain, Ireland and/or France. Go back farther and you will find the Turkey.

Thoroughbreds have been shipping and shuttling between countries and continents for hundreds of years. But viewing international racing is a relatively new concept. Americans were used to watching American-bred horses run in American races. And they wanted to keep their equine heroes near. Seabiscuit. Native Dancer. Secretariat.

Taylor Made Farm announced on Wednesday that CALIFORNIA CHROME (Lucky Pulpit – Love the Chase, by Not For Love) was headed for Japan. But they never expected the strong reaction from fans on social media. So strong was that reaction that Mark Taylor tweeted this statement:

“I find it interesting how many people in America view Japan as a bad place to send a horse. Just to put everyone’s mind at ease, we are 100% confident that Chrome is going to a FIVE STAR accommodation. He can NEVER be sold without our knowledge.”

Many on Twitter and Facebook expressed their love and admiration for California Chrome. The beautiful chestnut stallion with chrome like a ’57 Chevy came up through the racing ranks like a folk hero. He wasn’t considered a superhorse but his accomplishments were indeed supreme.

Chrome’s odd owners puzzled fans but the controversy kept him in the news. This colt became beloved by old and new race fans. He became known as “The People’s Horse.”

From this the “Chromies” were born. Loyal lovers of this horse hero. They kept apprised of every race and, upon retirement to the breeding shed, every foal. Taylor Made Farm even created Chrome Baby Chronicles for fans to follow foals. When California Chrome would shuttle to Chile, fans wept. When he returned to the U.S., they cheered.

Others on social media expressed disappointment that California Chrome was not given a full chance at breeding in North America. His first crop had yet to hit the track. His yet untested progeny’s success could have elevated his stud fee of $35,000.

An irony in this story is that the eight-year-old champion, headed for Japan, appears on the cover of the 2020 American Racehorse Stallion Register in all of his chromie stallion glory.

The most famous and influential of the Japanese imports is SUNDAY SILENCE (Halo – Wishing Well by Understanding). The black colt who also won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness but lost the Belmont was sent to Japan in 1991. He was Japan’s leading sire with his first 3-year-olds in 1995 and did not relinquish the title until 2008, six years after his death. Many of Sunday Silence’s sons have gone on to become successful breeding stallions, with at least sixteen of them siring Group or Grade I winners. One of his great grandsons, Master Fencer (Just A Way – Sexy Zamurai {JPN} by Deputy Minister {CAN}), finished sixth in the 2019 Kentucky Derby and fifth in the Belmont Stakes.

Sunday Silence at Shadai Stallion Station Hayakita(Abira), Hokkaido, Japan courtesy Shadai Stallion Station.

CHARISMATIC (Summer Squall – Bali Babe by Drone) was 1999 Horse of the Year and Champion 3-year-old Colt and, like Sunday Silence and California Chrome, he won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness but lost the Belmont. Charismatic was extremely lucky. He fractured a leg in the Belmont, finished third and was able to recover to begin a stud career. He entered stud at Lane’s End in 2000 for a $35,000 fee. In 2002 he went to Japan to stand at JBBA Shizunai Stallion Station in Hokkaido. In December 2016, much to the happiness of his fans, Charismatic came home to retire at Old Friends in Kentucky. Sadly, he died February 19, 2017.

Charismatic had sired 371 starters from 424 foals of racing age and 263 winners who had combined earnings of more than $44.5 million. His best runner in the United States was Sun King, who won four graded stakes and earned more than $2.2 million. In Japan, his most successful offspring was Wonder Acute, a multiple group stakes winner.

California Chrome isn’t the only stallion heading to Japan for stud duty. It was announced in October that ANIMAL KINGDOM, 2011 Kentucky Derby winner, second in the Preakness and 3-year-old Horse of the Year, is headed to Japan. The Kentucky-bred stallion, son of Brazilian stallion Leroidesanimaux out of the German mare Dalicia by Acatenango (GER), truly has an international pedigree.

Animal Kingdom entered stud in 2013 at Arrowfield Stud, Australia, for a fee of 38,500$AU. In 2014, he went to Darley/America, based at Jonabell Farm in Lexington, Ky., to stand for $35,000. The 2013 Dubai World Cup winner has been standing at Darley/America for a fee in 2019 of $15,000. Animal Kingdom had shuttled between Darley/America and Darley/Australia. From three crops to race in each hemisphere, he is the sire of 12 black-type winners and five at the group/graded level, including G1 Australian Derby victor Angel of Truth (Aus).

Animal Kingdom will join stallions CREATOR (Tapit – Morena {PER} by Privately Held), JOHANNESBURG (Hennessy – Myth by Ogygian) and ESKENDEREYA (Giant’s Causeway – Aldebaran Light by Seattle Slew) at Japan Bloodhorse Breeders’ Association and stand in 2020 for an undetermined fee. Animal Kingdom’s dam, Dalicia (GER), has been a broodmare at Shadai Farm since 2009.

Animal Kingdom wins the 137th Kentucky Derby- Morry Gash/AP

When the announcement was made, Animal Kingdom made some waves on social media. Many fans lamented his departure. His long-time trainer, Graham Motion, who just won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf G1 with Sharing, tweeted “… [Animal Kingdom] made me look good. Special horse.”

Another fan favorite set to retire after his Breeders’ Cup Turf win, the formidable 5-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway (out of Beyond the Waves by Ocean Crest), BRICKS AND MORTAR, will be heading to Shadai Stallion Station, Japan, to begin his breeding career in 2020. The Horse of the Year contender’s 2019 wins include the Pegasus World Cup Turf Inv. G1 at Gulfstream Park, Manhattan S. G1 at Belmont, Arlington Million S. G1, Turf Classic S. G1 at Churchill and Muniz Memorial H. G2 at the Fair Grounds.

Retired this month, the Irish colt, THUNDER SNOW (Helmet {AUS} – Eastern Joy {GB} by Dubai Destinations), is also headed to Darley’s operation in Japan. A horse who refused to run in the Kentucky Derby ended his career with a flourish by winning the Dubai World Cup two years in a row, as a 4-year-old and 5-year-old. Thunder Snow raced in England, Ireland, France, UAE and the U.S. with earnings of $16,511,476US.

HAWKBILL, who entered stud in 2019 at Dalham Hall, Newmarket for a fee of £7,500, will be standing at Darley/Japan in 2020. The 6-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy (out of Trenda by Giant’s Causeway), bred in Kentucky, raced in England, Ireland, Germany, France, UAE and Canada.

Kentucky-bred DECLARATION OF WAR (War Front – Tempo West by Rahy) is standing at Shizunai Stallion Station, Japan, for the 2019 season. He entered stud in 2014 at Coolmore/Ireland; shuttled to Coolmore/Australia. In 2018, he stood at Ashford Stud, Ky., for $25,000. 2013 Champion Older Male in England and Ireland, Declaration of War raced in England, Ireland, France and the U.S.

NEW YEAR’S DAY won the Breeders Cup Juvenile in 2012. In 2013, the son of Irish stallion, Street Cry, out of Dixie Union mare Justwhistledixie, retired with an injury. From 2014 to 2018 New Year’s Day stood  at Hill ‘n’ Dale in Kentucky for $12,500. In January 2018 he was sold to stand at Stud Eternamente Rio, Acegua, Brazil. In May 2019 he was sold to stand at Shadai Stallion Station, Japan, for the 2020 season.

One reason for the import of so many stallions is lack of interest in the American market. Another is Japan has a massive void after losing leading sires Deep Impact (JPN) (Sunday Silence – Wind In Her Hair by Alzao), and King Kamehameha (JPN) (Kingmambo – Mahfath {IRE} by Last Tycoon {IRE}), in the last year.

But not all is lost for stallion fans. Some do return. Florida Derby winner TAKE CHARGE INDY will be returning to WinStar Farm, Kentucky, to stand for a fee of $17,500 in 2020. He had entered stud in 2014 at WinStar after recovering from a racing injury, condylar fracture of left foreleg, in July 2013. In 2017, Take Charge Indy stood at Jeju Stud Farm in South Korea.

Foaled April 27, 2000 at Juddmonte Farms in Kentucky, EMPIRE MAKER (A.P. Indy – Take Charge Lady by Dehere) retired to stud at Juddmonte from 2004 to 2010. He was relocated to JBBA Shizunai Stallion Station, Hokkaido, Japan in 2011. Empire Maker has been standing at Gainesway Farm in Kentucky since 2016.

Empire Maker’s pedigree is nearly all USA with a handful of exceptions. In his bottom Northern Dancer brings in Great Britain and Italy via Canada. In his top is a trickle of France through his sire’s damsire, Le Fabuleux. The son of Unbridled out of Toussaud (El Gran Senor) won the 2003 Belmont Stakes G1, Wood Memorial Stakes G1, Florida Derby G1 and was second in the Kentucky Derby G1, Jim Dandy Stakes G2 and Sham Stakes.

Note for the Chromies: Upon his pension from stud duties California Chrome will be retired to Taylor Made Farm to live out his days in bucolic Kentucky. And you will still be able to follow California Chrome’s progeny as they enter training/racing age. Some of California Chrome’s babies have been named:

• Polished Chrome (o/o Hotlantic by Stormy Atlantic)

• California Reign (o/o Scandalous Song by Unbridled’s Song)

• California Rone (o/o Stayclassysandiego by Rockport Harbor)

• Classy Cal (o/o Champagne Royale by French Deputy)

• Lavish McTavish (o/o Moulin De Mougin by Curlin)

Contributing Authors

MB Kalinich

Maribeth Kalinich is a racing enthusiast and historian who writes about current racing events, Thoroughbred history and preservation of historic racing sites. Growing up in...

View MB Kalinich

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