04/24/2013 9:00PM

Air Groove, Japanese Horse of the Year, dead at 20


Top racemare and broodmare Air Groove, the 1997 Horse of the Year in Japan who went on to produce two Group 1 winners, died after giving birth to a King Kamehameha colt at Northern Farm on the island of Hokkaido, Japan April 23. The Tony Bin mare was 20.

"She was the most successful horse in my farm, both in her racing and breeding careers," Northern Farm's Katsumi Yoshida told the Racing Post. "She had always been at the center of the Northern Farm history. I want to say thanks again to her many fans who cheered her on."

Group 1-placed as a juvenile, Air Groove broke through with a victory in the Group 1 Japanese Oaks the following season.

In 1997, she was honored as Japan's Horse of the Year and champion older mare for a campaign that included wins in the Group 1 Tenno Sho, Group 2 Sapporo Kinen, and Group 3 Mermaid Stakes; she also finished second in the Group 1 Japan Cup and third in the Group 1 Arima Kinen.

As a 5-year-old, Air Groove scored a pair of Group 2 victories and placed in three Group 1 events, including another runner-up effort in the Japan Cup. She retired with career earnings of $6,832,242.

As a broodmare, Air Groove has been represented by nine winners from as many starters. Her first foal, the Sunday Silence filly Admire Groove, was Japan's champion older mare of 2004; her five group stakes victories included two editions of the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup. Admire Groove has gone on to produce three winners from three starters to date, including Group 2-placed Admire Sceptre. 

Another of Air Groove's offspring, Rulership, was a multiple Group 2 winner in Japan and captured the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Hong Kong. She also produced Group 2 winner Forgettable and Group 3 winner Gullveig.

Out of Japanese champion Dyna Carle, Air Groove was a half-sister to stakes producers Curly Angel, Curly Passion, and Marie Chantal.