12/27/2012 5:17PM

Hovdey: Silentio speaks volumes on Sunday Silence's influence


Most of the headlines from Santa Anita’s opening day Wednesday were a variation on the Mandella & Son angle, lauding the intergenerational stakes double laid down by Richard and Gary in the Malibu on the main track and the Sir Beaufort on turf. Gary is the tall one. Richard is in the Hall of Fame. Both of them have a sense of humor that can be generously described as arid.

The victory of Jimmy Creed in the seven-furlong Malibu for the elder Mandella and owner B. Wayne Hughes was a thoroughly professional piece of work by a handy chestnut colt who would seem to have a bright future in doing anything from six to nine furlongs, depending on his trainer’s mood. Jimmy C. was going very fast at the end of the Malibu in chasing down Private Zone, who was not exactly stopping.

It should be noted that there was nothing original in Richard Mandella winning the Malibu. He’d done it four times before. If Jimmy Creed can live up to the level of Afternoon Deelites, Oraibi, Dixie Union, or Rock Hard Ten, he’ll do all right.

In winning the Sir Beaufort with Silentio, bred and owned by Alain and Gerard Wertheimer, Gary Mandella was doing his bit for family values as well. Silentio is a son of Silent Name, who in turn was a son of Sunday Silence, trained by the younger Mandella to win the 2006 Arcadia Handicap at Santa Anita and the 2007 Commonwealth Handicap at Keeneland.

“There are very few similarities,” Gary Mandella said, referring to Silentio and his sire. “This horse is a whole hand, hand and a half taller than Silent Name, and he was heading that way as a yearling, which is why we had to give him time to grow into himself.”

Silentio also needed a little work on his hocks, and time to recover from the suggestion of a possible tibia fracture. Now, on the brink of age 4, he’s an imposing sight to behold.

“He’s tall, leggy, and athletic, and he’s a little easier on himself in his races than his sire was,” Mandella said. “Silent Name had a real head of steam all the time. He wanted to be close and didn’t want to be taken hold of, where this horse is an easier horse to ride, which could make the difference in him being a little bit better horse than his father was.”

Silentio defeated the Giant’s Causeway colt Battle Force by a half-length at the end of the Sir Beaufort’s mile in 1:34.27 on a damp turf course otherwise untroubled by an early morning storm. The result eerily replicated their maiden race encounter at a mile over the Santa Anita grass on Oct. 1, 2011, when Battle Force lost by three-quarters of a length. At least he’s cutting into the difference.

As to the future, Mandella would seem to have plenty of options for Silentio in the target-rich environment for turf milers in North America these days. That would be the good news. The other news is that some of the best horses in North America just happen to be very good turf milers as displayed at Santa Anita in the Breeders’ Cup Mile last November by Horse of the Year candidate Wise Dan, the resurgent Derby winner Animal Kingdom, and California’s best older miler, Obviously, who ran 1-2-3.

“Maybe I’ll get lucky,” Mandella said. “Maybe Graham Motion will take Animal Kingdom to Dubai, and he’ll be out of the division for a while. And maybe Charlie Lopresti will put Wise Dan on a different path this year and do some more dirt racing with him. I mean, his horse is so versatile, shame on Charlie if he’s just going to run him in the same races he ran in this year. That’s just not acceptable.”

Good luck to that. In the meantime, through his work with Silent Name and Silentio, Gary Mandella continues to blow on the glowing embers of the memory of Sunday Silence, the 1989 Horse of the Year when he won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Breeders’ Cup Classic. Hailed by racing fans but shunned by Kentucky breeders, Sunday Silence ended up spending his stallion career in Japan, where he revolutionized the breed, imbuing a gene pool full of European stayers with a fiery zest for speed over a distance of ground.

The figures will not be in for a long time, but given the ongoing success of the sons and daughters of Sunday Silence, it is a virtual certainty he will end up every bit the historical rival of Northern Dancer in terms of economic impact. Sunday Silence stood at Shadai Farms in northern Japan, where Silent Name was foaled in 2002 before beginning his racing career in France. Silent Name now stands at the Canadian branch of Adena Farms in Ontario.

Arthur Hancock absorbed the news of Silentio’s win in the Sir Beaufort with a familiar mixture of pride and regret. Hancock, who owns Stone Farm in Kentucky, bred Sunday Silence and raced him with partners Ernest Gaillard and trainer Charlie Whittingham, then sold him to leading Japanese breeder Zenya Yoshida when no interest was being shown to keep him in America.

“When we got him back here and tried to syndicate him, I had three people who wanted shares and just two others who wanted contracts to breed to him,” Hancock recalled. “Word was getting around that he was a fluke and a freak, and like Citation he’d never make a sire. You know how this industry is – once a perception is created it takes a lot of breaking to change it.”

And once the first few crops of Sunday Silence started hitting the racetracks of Japan, no amount of American money could get him back.

“At least there’s a few young sires of promise by Sunday Silence here,” Hancock said, noting one named Hat Trick, who stands at Gainesway. “Still, it was sad we couldn’t keep him. He would have been a great stallion over here and had a lot of sons. I’ll never forget what Charlie Whittingham always said: ‘Never say anything about a horse till he’s been dead at least 10 years.’ ”

Sunday Silence died in 2002, so go ahead.

anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sunday Silence has limited impact here. Judging from Stay Gold, a son in Japan, his offspring aren't all the greatest looking or running, what a butt ugly horse that guy is. And who cares what happens in Japanese racing? They're never going to sell alot of horses here so let them keep SS's offspring and praise them all they want to, I just don't think the US missed out on that much. The best breeders seem to have been less than top racehorses. AP Indy, Danzig, Arch, and especially Mr. Prospector were not triple crown race winners. So, what's the tragedy in letting a dual classuc horse slip away? I also think it's wrong and almost insulting to imply American mares aren't as good as Japanese mares. That's ludicrous, most of the horses racing here today are from American mares, so they must be ok.
mikey More than 1 year ago
Yeah right....horseracing here is dead because of the frail sprinters and milers....Japan is breeding the best thoroughbreds in the world...
PeterG More than 1 year ago
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oulZ8rsURUI That's a link to High Def video from the grandstand of Gold Ship winning the 2012 Arima Kinen in Japan. You can't miss Gold Ship, he's the grey at the back of the pack who comes flying late. Big crowd there. Gold Ship won 2 legs of the Japanese Triple Crown this year.
PeterG More than 1 year ago
Japan is going to have at least 3 runners in the Arc De Triomphe next year, (Gold Ship, Orfevre, and Gentildonna) Sunday Silence is the sire of the sire for all 3 of them. Gold Ship's sire is Stay Gold by Sunday Silence Orfevre's sire is Stay Gold by Sunday Silence Gentildonna's sire is Deep Impact by Sunday Silence Gold Ship is another monster closer just like Orfevre. Here's a good article about it. http://www.racingpost.com/news/horse-racing/world-class-gold-ship-sails-to-top-of-three-year-old-rankings/1177248/top/#newsArchiveTabs=last7DaysNews
Kate Hunter More than 1 year ago
I am probably in the minority, but I think if Sunday Silence had stayed in the US, based on the attitude people had towards him, he wouldn't have impacted the breed much at all. I don't think he would have been serviced by the right mares or the quantity to make an impact. I think going to Japan was the best thing that could have happened to him. Now he will come back around and he will impact the breed on an international scale. That wouldn't probably wouldn't have happened if he had stayed in the US, gone to a minor stud farm, etc.
Margi Foley More than 1 year ago
Kate, I'm in the same minority as you, so don't feel alone. Sunday Silence was perceived as a "freak" overachiever, pedigree-wise, and I'm convinced that he would never have become what he did if he had stayed in the US. Also, as silly as this may sound, I believe that there was an unconscious backlash from the breeding establishment stemming from his victories over the blue-blooded Easy Goer. And anyone that thinks that Arthur Hancock was a money-grabbing SOB for selling him to Japan is just plain uninformed. He wanted desperately to keep him here, but there was just little to zero interest in him as a stallion prospect, and he needed the money to settle Stone Farm debt and get a fresh start. People don't realize, just because his name is "Hancock", that he went off on his own to start Stone Farm, and he had separated himself from the Claiborne name. He really didn't have a choice given the offer he was tendered. Anyway, you can't help but see the parallel here with I'll Have Another. Reddam wanted to syndicate I'll Have Another to stand here but got almost no interest. While I was disappointed with the way the whole I'll Have Another saga played out, I'm actually happy that he's gone to a place that wants him. He's going to be given a chance in Japan with well-bred mares that carry much more diverse bloodlines than the high-end mares we have here......mares that he likely never would see anyway. It's delusional to predict that I'll Have Another will have a career like Sunday Silence did, but at least he's been given a chance to have an impact.....something he would probably not have been given here. Great post, Kate. Thanks.
BrandonLayer More than 1 year ago
America truely lost out when Sunday Silence went to Japan. Had he stayed in America his legacy would be HUGE right now. Awesome runner and sire no doubt. I loved the Sunday Silence/Easy Goer rivalry. I like how Hancock says, "It was sad we couldn't keep him." Um Arthur you could have kept him! You just didn't want to because you could make more $$$ selling him to Japan. Don't act like you had no choice but to sell him because you did.
not impressed More than 1 year ago
Brandon, Hancock eventually sold Sunday Silence because he had a large debt he had to pay off or he'd lose his farm. He was counting on the money from syndicate shares to cover that, but when it didn't he had no choice. And anyone knows you can't build a base for a stallion if only 5 people breed to him. While I think our industry was STUPID and is SHORT SIGHTED, the best thing for SS was to go to Japan where time and again our best horses rejected here have shown they should not have been overlooked. Same thing happened to Lionheart and Dehere. Coolmore didn't give them a real shot and sold both before they had a chance to get their runners out. Both have since proved they were idiots in selling them in the first place.
Ann Maree More than 1 year ago
Sunday Silence progeny have won over $800 Million! Yes, the Japan purses are extravagent, but you can cut this in half or even a third, and no horse in the history of the sport has ever approached such dramatic impact on the breed. Very nice article, Jay. Thanks for showcasing a great sire. So distressing that American breeders are still making the same mistakes by letting some outstanding potential sires leave our shores. Will it ever change?
Mable Roberts More than 1 year ago
Ann you are spot on. Couldn't agree with EVERYTHING you said. Soon we're going to have to BUY all of our great lines back from Japan because we'll have such little diversity in our breeding programs to go on any further!!
Mable Roberts More than 1 year ago
*Couldn't agree with everything you said *MORE*! :)
carol More than 1 year ago
Absolutely agree......probably one of the hugest idiocy's ever letting Sunday Silence get away....and I read a while ago about defects in conformation...maybe ....just maybe SS was right and all the great minds were wrong....I know ...not possible that the "great minds" could be wrong....about anything....I am very much afraid they it has happened again .....this year
carol More than 1 year ago
...I am very much afraid that it has happened again...
Ann Maree More than 1 year ago
P.S. In the recent Grand Prix in Japan (Arima Kinen), 11 of the 16 horses entered were by sons and daughters of Sunday Silence. Give him another 10-20 years, and maybe we can eventually have some classic winners in the U.S. that don't have champagne glass ankles and can last beyond their 3 yr old season! I'm hoping for I'll Have Another to meet up with some stout Sunday Silence mares...would love for Mr. Reddam to bring back a couple of those foals! Wouldn't that be something!
Rachel Harding More than 1 year ago
Its likely, IHA stands at Big Red Farm which has Sunday Silence sons at stud there. I would not doubt them bringing Sunday Silence daughters to IHA, they adore him there and one person said he doesnt look like a dirt horse, he looks like a grass horse. I found that funny.
not impressed More than 1 year ago
No, it will never change because our industry doesn't care about longevity or even racing really. It's all about how much money you can make while you can make it. Otherwise horses would be running as 4,5,and 6yos. I only ever see Japan or sometimes Europe run their superstars past 3 anymore. Shoot, I can't really say we've had a superstar on the male side lately. The girls are the ones doing all the talking.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Northern Dancer? Jay, c'mon, put it out!