12/31/2004 12:00AM

Zenno Rob Roy extends sire's dominance

Sunday Silence's death in 2002 does not mean the end of his vast influence.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Sunday Silence died in 2002, but the dark horse with the intense competitiveness is neither gone nor forgotten in Japan, where he stood his entire stud career.

This year, Sunday Silence once again crushed his opponents in siring winning racehorses, as Sunday Silence led the Japanese general sire list for the 10th consecutive year with more than $86 million in progeny earnings for 2004 (through Dec. 28). He also tops the list of leading juvenile sires with more than $7.5 million in earnings.

In leading both the general sire list and the juvenile list in Japan, Sunday Silence has shown the level of dominance over Japanese racing that Bold Ruler had in America more than three decades ago.

And since the offspring of Sunday Silence are racing and winning in Japan, the world's richest racing environment, they also are winning more money than the progeny of any stallion in history. This year, Sunday Silence exceeded a half-billion dollars in earnings for his offspring, who began racing in 1994.

Sunday Silence has sired 131 stakes winners, with more than three dozen stakes winners racing in 2004. Adding excellence to quantity, the greatest stallion in Japanese breeding history has sired 17 champions in Japan, and more will be added from this season's racing.

The best of the lot in 2004 was Zenno Rob Roy, who ended his stellar season on Dec. 26 with a victory in the Arima Kinen. In his previous start, Zenno Rob Roy had defeated an international field in the Japan Cup, and this year, he has earned more than $6.6 million.

A 4-year-old colt by Sunday Silence, Zenno Rob Roy ran the 2,500 meters of the Arima Kinen in 2:29.50. His time was one second off the stakes record set last year by Japan's 2003 Horse of the Year, Symboli Kris S., a son of the deceased American stallion Kris S.

Zenno Rob Roy was third in the Arima Kinen last year behind Symboli Kris S., who is now at stud. Zenno Rob Roy has won 7 of his 15 starts and earned more than $9 million.

Zenno Rob Roy is out of the Mining mare Roamin Rachel, who won the Grade 1 Ballerina at 4 during her U.S. racing career. Roamin Rachel produced three foals in Kentucky before her sale at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale in 1998, where she was purchased for $750,000 by Nobua Tsunoda.

The best of the foals that Roamin Rachel left in America was Darling My Darling, a stakes winner who ran second in the Grade 1 Frizette and Matron. In foal to Storm Cat at the time of purchase, Roamin Rachel produced a filly in 1999 who was later named Stray Cat and was unplaced in her only start. The mare's next foal was Zenno Rob Roy.

The likely Japanese Horse of the Year, Zenno Rob Roy was bred at Shiraoi Farm on Hokkaido, Japan, and sold to Shinobu Osako at the 2000 Japan Racing Horse Association select foal sale for 90 million yen, or approximately $833,333. Racing sources in Japan suggest that Zenno Rob Roy will be kept in training in 2005 before he goes to stud.

Sunday Silence won Eclipse Awards as champion 3-year-old colt and Horse of the Year in 1989, when he was victorious in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Breeders' Cup Classic. After his retirement in 1990, Sunday Silence sold to Zenya Yoshida, who stood the horse at his family's Shadai Stallion Station.

As a measure of Sunday Silence's pervasive influence on Japanese breeding, 11 of the 15 runners in the Arima Kinen were by Sunday Silence or one of his sons.

Time has no favorites, however, and even the all-conquering Sunday Silence passed into history. In the coming seasons, his final racers will come to compete on Japanese courses, and in a few short years, he will have too few runners to maintain his hold on the stallion list in Japan.

But the end of Sunday Silence's dominance as leading sire in Japan will not mean the end of his influence.

Second to Sunday Silence on the general sires list in 2004 was his son Dance in the Dark, whose progeny earned less than a third of his sire's, with a total of more than $24 million. That sum was still $4 million ahead of the Roberto stallion Brian's Time, who held third place ahead of Sunday Silence's champion son Fuji Kiseki, whose offspring earned more than $17 million.

On the juvenile sire list, it was more of the same. Sunday Silence won off with more than twice the earnings of the second-place sire, French Deputy, who had progeny earnings of more than $3 million. In third and fifth on the juvenile list were Sunday Silence's sons Special Week and Admire Vega, both with runners whose earnings topped $2 million.