Updated on 03/12/2011 9:31PM

Japan’s Thoroughbred breeding industry appears unscathed by quake, tsunami

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The center of Japan’s Thoroughbred breeding industry - home to such American-bred champions as Azeri, Silver Charm, and Charismatic - appears to have escaped the nation’s largest-ever earthquake with relatively little damage, according to French bloodstock agent Patrick Barbe.

Barbe’s clients include Teruya Yoshida of Shadai Farm. Barbe said he spoke with Yoshida’s secretary early Friday morning after the earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck the area. The tsunami caused flooding on Hokkaido, but the Shadai employee told Barbe that staff and horses were uninjured and damage was relatively light on the West coast of Hokkaido.

The island is home to numerous stud farms, including the prominent Shadai and Northern Farm operations.

Barbe said he was told the area near Shadai was “reasonably untouched.”

“I spoke to the office briefly this morning, because communication is bad, and cell phones are not working well,” Barbe said. “Hokkaido apparently is safe, but there is some damage, but nothing major to horses or people. But the middle of Japan, the Sendai area, where there are some training centers, was heavily hit. About two hours after the quake, I was told that no one was hurt among the horses and community, but, of course, the people living there probably have lost relatives. It’s a tragedy.”

The death toll was rising Friday after the temblor, which struck at 2:46 p.m. Japanese time and was followed by aftershocks rating above 7 in magnitude. Japanese police reported between 200 and 300 dead in Sendai, near the initial quake’e epicenter.

Darley Stud’s stallion director, Sam Bullard, also told Britain’s sporting newspaper Racing Post that their stallions in Japan were unharmed