Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Sunday Silence, the broodmare sire of G2 UAE Derby winner Lani and the paternal grandsire of G1 Dubai Turf winner Real Steel this past weekend, was sold to Japan for stud duty because there wasn’t interest in him here. In a Daily Racing Form piece on January 3, 2014, the venerable John Sparkman recalled this: “According to comments from American breeders at the time, Sunday Silence, despite being the American racehorse with the best racetrack form since Spectacular Bid, was not sired by a horse they regarded as a sire of sires, despite the fact that his sire, Halo, had led the American sire list twice.”
There was another reason for the lack of interest, too. Sunday Silence had a weak and unfashionable female family, one, incidentally, developed in California by George A. Pope, Jr. Though his dam, Wishing Well, was well raced, with a record of 12 wins and $381,625 in earnings, including scores in the G2 Gamely and G3 Wilshire handicaps, she was by the insignificant stallion Understanding from Mountain Flower, by Montparnasse II. Her only stakes winner was Sunday Silence.
Mountain Flower, likewise, produced only one stakes winner, Wishing Well.
Mountain Flower was out of the Hillary mare Edelweiss — Sunday Silence’s 3rd dam. Edelweiss produced one stakes winner, Unexpectedly, an earner of $55,734.
Edelweiss, in turn, was out of the mare Dowager, by Free France. Dowager didn’t produce a stakes winner.
So, to recap, at the time Sunday Silence was retired, the only stakes winners under his first four California-bred dams, excluding him, were Wishing Well and Unexpectedly.
Japanese breeder Zenya Yoshida of Shadai Farm in Japan wasn’t deterred by Sunday Silence’s sire or female family. He wanted the Kentucky Derby winner because he valued Sunday Silence’s racetrack accomplishments — which also included the Breeders’ Cup Classic — and he had the well-bred mares, he felt, that would complement Sunday Silence at stud. He was right. Yoshida died in 1993 and wasn’t able to see what he had sown, but his sons did, and they continued his vision and reaped and are still reaping the benefits of that decision to buy Sunday Silence, weak family and all.
Sunday Silence led the Japanese sire list for 13 consecutive years from 1995 to 2007 and was largely responsible for putting the Japanese-bred horse into the international arena through his runners, producing daughters, and sons at stud — the most notable being Deep Impact, who has led the sire list the last four consecutive years and is to Sunday Silence what Galileo is to Sadler’s Wells. And Deep Impact stands at Shadai.