Updated on 09/17/2011 12:04PM

Japan accounts for top horses

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In response to widespread reporting that the 1986 Kentucky Derby winner, Ferdinand, may have been killed last year in a Japanese slaughterhouse, the Japan Racing Association faxed a letter to the Associated Press saying that slaughter of imported high-caliber racehorses is highly unusual.

According to AP reports, the JRA and Japan Bloodhorse Breeders Association said they had determined the status of 23 of 24 high-level horses imported to Japan since 1980. They have died of natural causes, been exported to other countries, or remain in good care.

"Ferdinand is the only one who is unaccounted for," Masayuki Takahashi, the JRA's chief executive, said in the letter.

Japan's list of champion importees includes War Emblem, the 2002 Kentucky Derby winner who is the subject of an insurance claim because of his lack of libido; Charismatic, the 1999 Derby winner; and 1989 Derby winner Sunday Silence, a champion sire in Japan who died last year after foundering.