Sunday Silence (March 25, 1986 – August 19, 2002) was an American-bred Thoroughbred racehorse and Sire. In 1989, he won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes but failed to complete the Triple Crown when he was defeated in the Belmont Stakes. Later in the same year, he won the Breeders' Cup Classic and was voted American Champion Three-Year-Old Colt and American Horse of the Year. Sunday Silence's racing career was marked by his tightly matched rivalry with Easy Goer, whom he held a three to one edge over. Easy Goer, the 1988 American Champion Two-Year-Old Colt defeated him by eight lengths in the Belmont and finished second to him in the Kentucky Derby by two and a half lengths, Preakness by a nose and Breeders' Cup Classic by a neck. Both horses were later voted into the American Hall of Fame.
Sunday Silence at Shadai Stallion Station Hayakita(Abira), Hokkaido, Japan.
|Grandsire||Hail To Reason|
|Foaled||March 25, 1986|
|Died||August 19, 2002(aged 16)|
|Breeder||Oak Cliff Thoroughbreds, Ltd.|
Racing colors: Gray, yellow sash, sleeves and cap
|Santa Anita Derby (1989)|
San Felipe Stakes (1989)
Super Derby (1989)
Californian Stakes (1990)
American Classics / Breeders' Cup wins:
Kentucky Derby (1989)
Preakness Stakes (1989)
Breeders' Cup Classic (1989)
|U.S. Champion 3-Year-Old Colt (1989)|
United States Horse of the Year (1989)
|United States Racing Hall of Fame (1996)|
#31 – Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century
Sunday Silence Stakes in Louisiana Downs
Leading sire in Japan 1995 through 2007
|Last updated on January 12, 2008|
After his retirement from racing, Sunday Silence attracted little support by breeders in the United States and was exported to Japan. He was Leading Sire in Japan on thirteen occasions, surpassing the previous record of ten titles by Northern Taste. Although the relatively insular nature of Japanese racing at the time meant that Sunday Silence's success was initially restricted to his home territory, his descendants have in recent years won major races in Australia, France, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, the United States and Dubai. Blood Horse pedigree expert Anne Peters said, "Had Sunday Silence retired in Kentucky, it's almost certain he would have tanked commercially and been exported in disgrace, but he found his perfect gene pool and thrived instead."
In the Blood-Horse magazine List of the Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century, Sunday Silence is ranked #31.
Sunday Silence was foaled March 25, 1986, by Halo out of Wishing Well by Understanding. Though he was registered as a dark bay/brown, he was in fact a true black. He was bred by Oak Cliff Thoroughbreds, Ltd. and escaped death twice: first as a weanling when he nearly died from a freak virus; and later at age two, traveling in a van when the driver experienced a heart attack and the van flipped over. He was passed over twice at the sales ring as a yearling before he was sold in California for $50,000 as a two-year-old in training. Arthur B. Hancock III bought him as a "buy-back" (he had bred him), hoping to ship him to Kentucky. However, the van accident kept Sunday Silence in California. Hall of Fame trainer Charlie Whittingham bought a half share of the colt and then sold half of that to Dr. Ernest Gaillard. (Ownership designate: H-G-W Partners)
1988: two-year-old seasonEdit
Although Sunday Silence showed ability, he didn't make it to the races until late in his two-year-old season, finishing second in a maiden race, then winning a maiden special weight race and finishing second in an allowance race from three starts.
1989: three-year-old seasonEdit
In the buildup to the 1989 Triple Crown, a rivalry developed between the West Coast-based Sunday Silence and the East Coast-based Easy Goer, winner of the 1988 Eclipse Award for best Two-Year-Old Colt. In the 1 1/4 mile Kentucky Derby, the first leg of the Triple Crown, Sunday Silence and jockey Pat Valenzuela defeated Easy Goer by 2½ lengths over a muddy track in the slowest time (2:05) for a Kentucky Derby since 1958. Easy Goer had a history of having difficulty handling a muddy track at Churchill Downs. Easy Goer's jockey, Pat Day, and his trainer, Shug McGaughey, expressed their thoughts and explanations on the race. Daily Racing Form writer Dan Illman stated after Sunday Silence's victory that "the best horse won that afternoon." Daily Racing Form chairman Steve Crist stated his opinion that "Easy Goer had a legitimate explanation for his defeat, as he didn't handle the muddy Churchill track."
While both horses were preparing for the 1 3/16 mile Preakness, each had minor ailments. Sunday Silence came up dead lame after a gallop 7 days before the race. Trainer Whittingham contacted well-known Kentucky veterinarian Dr. Alex Harthill. Dr. Harthill diagnosed a bruise under the sole, a common injury that "wasn't a serious problem but it had happened at a serious time." Harthill had Sunday Silence step on a clean sheet of white paper which was subsequently faxed to Dr. Ric Redden of Lexington, Ky., and from which Redden prepared a set of aluminum bar shoes. Redden and his assistant then flew via rented jet to Baltimore with the bar shoes and x-ray machine to confirm that no fracture was involved. After the shoes were fitted, Sunday Silence resumed training 4 days before the race. After his connections saw the colt's "remarkably" rapid recovery from the injury, the bar shoes were removed the day before the race.
Meanwhile, at his rival's stable, throughout Preakness week (as late as Friday, the day before the race), Easy Goer's front feet were being soaked in tubs of Epsom salts due to small scratches or cracks on both heels. An ultrasound was also performed on his ankles and knees. Some wondered if these ailments could compromise the chances of both horses. Easy Goer had "problematic, puffy" ankles that he dealt with throughout his career. Trainer Thad Ackel (trained Breeders' Cup Turf winner Great Communicator) stated, "Easy Goer has got a couple of osselets (enlargements of the fetlock joints usually caused by excess fluid), and it looked to me like there's come calcification there. I was surprised that such a good horse could have ankles like that."
Sunday Silence again prevailed over his arch-rival, this time by a nose, in a head-and-head battle down the home stretch. This race has been proclaimed by many experts to be the "Race of the Half Century." Some Easy Goer loyalists in the media maintained their horse's superiority, attributing the loss to the fact that Easy Goer had leapt in the air at the start and his jockey, Pat Day, reined Easy Goer's head to the right when he had a short lead in the home stretch. Day, who lodged a failed objection against Valenzuela, has called his ride "a mistake." Bill Christine of the Los Angeles Times and trainer Shug McGaughey also expressed their opinions on the mistakes they thought Day made during the race.
During that era, New York was the only state in America that banned all race-day drugs and medications; New York didn't allow horses to race on any drugs, while the rest of the country did. The trainer of Sunday Silence, Charlie Whittingham, was angered that the controversial veterinarian Alex Harthill, who treated Sunday Silence earlier for the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, was not licensed in New York and prohibited from practicing. The day before the 1 1/2 mile Belmont Stakes, known as the "Run of the Carnations" and "Test of a Champion", Sunday Silence, with exercise rider Pam Mabes up, was spooked and kicked trainer Whittingham in the temple, a glancing blow that came close to killing the trainer. The Belmont track, which received several inches of rain in the days leading up to the race, was rated fast with Sunday Silence the 9:10 post time favorite, and the entry of Easy Goer and Awe Inspiring at 8:5.
Easy Goer defeated Sunday Silence by eight lengths in the time of 2:26  producing the second fastest Belmont Stakes in history, behind only Secretariat, and denied Sunday Silence the Triple Crown. In the process, Easy Goer seemed to vindicate his reputation as the reigning champion two year-old. By virtue of his two Classic wins and his runner-up performance, Sunday Silence was awarded the third $1,000,000 Visa Triple Crown Bonus for best three-year-old in the series.
Breeders' Cup ClassicEdit
After the Belmont Stakes, Sunday Silence finished second to eventual Breeders' Cup Turf winner Prized (Easy Goer defeated Prized by over 20 lengths in the Jockey Club Gold Cup) in the Grade II 1 1/4 mile Swaps Stakes on July 23, and won the Grade I Super Derby on September 24. Easy Goer won 4 successive Grade I stakes after the Belmont, consisting of (in chronological order) the 1 1/8 mile Whitney Handicap, 1 1/4 mile Travers Stakes, 1 1/4 mile Woodward Stakes and 1 1/2 mile Jockey Club Gold Cup, with three of those wins against older horses.
This set up one final face-off between Easy Goer and Sunday Silence at the season-ending $3 million 1 1/4 mile Breeders' Cup Classic at Gulfstream Park, run on November 4. The contest was expected to decide the winner of the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year. Sunday Silence's jockey Pat Valenzuela had earlier been suspended for cocaine use and was replaced by veteran Chris McCarron. Sunday Silence was the post time 2:1 second choice behind Easy Goer at 1:2. In the early part of the race, Easy Goer was 11 lengths behind the leader early and about 6 lengths behind Sunday Silence. Sunday Silence was 5 lengths behind the leader in the early part of the race. With 3 furlongs remaining, he was 4 lengths behind the leader and 1/2 length ahead of Easy Goer. Daily Racing Form chart caller noted that Sunday Silence "went after Blushing John approaching the stretch, headed that rival just inside the final furlong, lugged in slightly while edging away and turned back Easy Goer under good handling and Won driving" to win by a neck over Easy Goer. The chart also noted that Easy Goer "lost his position when he tried to head towards the gap leaving the chute, advanced quickly from the outside to reach contention nearing the end of the backstretch, wasn't able to stay with the leaders while continuing wide around the far turn, then finished boldly."
At this point, Sunday Silence had earned a single-season record $4.59 million (since surpassed by horses such as Cigar, Silver Charm, Curlin, Smarty Jones, and Pleasantly Perfect) and won seven times in nine starts for the 1989 campaign, earning him Eclipse Award for Outstanding 3-Year-Old Male Horse and Horse of the Year honors. For the latter award, Sunday Silence received 223 of 242 votes, making him the most decisive winner since John Henry eight years earlier. Former New York Times racing writer and current Daily Racing Form chairman Steve Crist stated in his New York Times article in January 1990 that had the question on the ballot been, "Who is the better horse, Sunday Silence or Easy Goer?" a lot more than 19 would have voted against Sunday Silence", but also said, "by any standards last year  belonged to Sunday Silence." Crist concluded, "Easy Goer was a great horse and so was Sunday Silence. I still think Easy Goer had more pure, raw talent. Sunday Silence held the three to one edge over Easy Goer in the races they met, but he never beat him in a way that proved he was just plain better. In Easy Goer's best race, he walloped Sunday Silence by eight lengths in the Belmont. In a few of his close defeats, Easy Goer had legitimate excuses: he finished second in the Derby on a muddy track he had difficulty handling, and lost the Preakness by only a nose after a dubious ride. In the Classic, where Sunday Silence held him off by a neck, Easy Goer just missed, but left no one thinking it could not have gone the other way." Paul Moran of the Los Angeles Times and Newsday agreed, stating that "Sunday Silence is Horse of the Year, but most still believe Easy Goer is the better horse." In 1996, Sunday Silence was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. He was ranked #31 in the Bloodhorse Top 100 Horses of the 20th Century, while Easy Goer ranked #34. Blood-Horse stated that its rankings "will generate debate for years to come." The electoral friction was ultimately reflected in the introduction to the Blood-Horse's "Top 100 Racehorses" book, which said, "For all the work and dreaming that went into it... one approaches the list... with a nagging sense of its folly as a rational exercise and of the maddening arbitrariness of its outcome. However one views this list of horses, whether in peace and contentment – or shock and dismay – all such judgments, of course, are entirely subjective, a mixture of whim, wisdom, and whatever prejudices howl through the back of the mind."
Since the Breeder's Cup Classic was instituted in 1984, Alysheba and Sunday Silence were the only two horses to win three legs of a four-race sequence that was defined in 2015 as the Grand Slam of Thoroughbred racing: The Triple Crown races, plus the Breeders' Cup Classic, and the first horse to win three legs of the modern Grand Slam in the same year. As the Breeders' Cup began after the 1978 Triple Crown win of Affirmed, the potential for a sweep of all four races only became possible in 1984, and did not occur until 2015 when American Pharoah won the Triple Crown and eventually the Grand Slam.
1990: four-year-old seasonEdit
At the age of four, Sunday Silence won the Californian and placed second in the Hollywood Gold Cup behind Criminal Type. He suffered an injured ligament that eventually led to his retirement. Out of 14 career races, he won nine and placed second in the other five.
Sunday Silence was sold to Japanese breeder Zenya Yoshida, to stand at his Shadai Stallion Station in Shiraoi, Hokkaido. Yoshida had acquired a 25% interest in Sunday Silence early in his 4-year-old season and bought out the other partners for an undisclosed amount.
Sunday Silence flourished in Japan and became their leading sire from 1995 through 2008, taking over from Northern Taste (10 time leading sire in Japan). However, breeders were generally not successful expanding his influence outside of Japan. His progeny have won many races in Japan, including 20 out of 22 JRA Grade 1 flat races (the only exceptions are the NHK Mile Cup and the Japan Cup Dirt). His progeny also have won International Grade 1 race including the Hong Kong Vase, Hong Kong Mile and Dubai Sheema Classic.
Descendants of Sunday Silence have broken many earnings records, mainly in Japan where the purses are significantly higher than the rest of the world. Conservative estimates on the earnings of Sunday Silence descendents place the total near JPY 80 billion (approximately $800 million.)  However, Average Earnings Index (Horse Racing) is a popular statistic in North America used to put the earnings of a sire's progeny into proper perspective although it is easily skewed by one or two big earners. A stallion's career AEI can be found by looking up the pedigree of any of their offspring in The Jockey Club's online pedigree database, equineline.com. Sunday Silence's career AEI, according to the Jockey Club's online pedigree database (which includes all career earnings throughout the entire world), equineline.com, is 2.55. Sunday Silence's career AEI, according to Racing Post is 2.15. However Racing Post warns details of horses trained outside GB and Ireland may be incomplete. Some of the all-time leading American sires by AEI rankings are: Bold Ruler 7.73, Alydar 5.21, Nasrullah 5.16, Northern Dancer 5.14, Nijinsky II 4.74, Danzig 4.53, Mr. Prospector 4.25, Seattle Slew 4.12, Buckpasser 3.94, Storm Cat 3.93, A.P. Indy 3.74.
|1992||Fuji Kiseki||c||Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes|
|1992||Genuine||c||Satsuki Shō, Mile Championship|
|1992||Dance Partner||f||Yūshun Himba, Queen Elizabeth II Cup|
|1992||Tayasu Tsuyoshi||c||Tokyo Yūshun|
|1993||Bubble Gum Fellow||c||Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes, Tennō Shō|
|1993||Dance in the Dark||c||Kikuka Shō|
|1994||Silence Suzuka||c||Takarazuka Kinen|
|1994||Stay Gold||c||Hong Kong Vase, Dubai Sheema Classic|
|1995||Special Week||c||Tokyo Yūshun, Japan Cup, Tennō Shō|
|1996||Admire Vega||c||Tokyo Yūshun|
|1996||To the Victory||f||Queen Elizabeth II Cup|
|1997||Agnes Flight||c||Tokyo Yūshun|
|1997||Air Shakur||c||Satsuki Shō, Kikuka Shō|
|1998||Agnes Tachyon||c||Satsuki Shō|
|1998||Manhattan Cafe||c||Kikuka Shō, Arima Kinen, Tennō Shō|
|1999||Durandal||c||Mile Championship, Sprinters Stakes|
|1999||Gold Allure||c||February Stakes|
|2000||Neo Universe||c||Satsuki Shō, Tokyo Yūshun|
|2000||Still in Love||f||Oka Shō, Yūshun Himba, Shūka Shō|
|2000||Zenno Rob Roy||c||Japan Cup, Arima Kinen, Tennō Shō|
|2001||Daiwa Major||c||Mile Championship, Yasuda Kinen, Satsuki Shō, Tennō Shō|
|2001||Dance in the Mood||f||Oka Shō|
|2001||Hat Trick||c||Mile Championship, Hong Kong Mile|
|2001||Heart's Cry||c||Dubai Sheema Classic, Arima Kinen|
|2001||Suzuka Mambo||c||Tennō Shō|
|2002||Deep Impact||c||Satsuki Shō, Tokyo Yūshun, Kikuka Shō, Japan Cup, Arima Kinen, Takarazuka Kinen, Tennō Shō|
|2003||Matsurida Gogh||c||Arima Kinen|
Sire of siresEdit
Many of Sunday Silence's sons have gone on to become successful breeding stallions, with at least sixteen of them siring Group or Grade I winners. These include:
- Fuji Kiseki sired Kane Hekili, Straight Girl, Sun Classique (Dubai Sheema Classic) and Isla Bonita (Satsuki Shō).
- Dance in the Dark sired Delta Blues, the winner of Australia's Melbourne Cup.
- Stay Gold sired Orfevre, Gold Ship, Dream Journey (Takarazuka Kinen, Arima Kinen), Nakayama Festa, Fenomeno (Tennō Shō), Oju Chosan (Nakayama Grand Jump, Nakayama Daishogai), Red Reveur (Hanshin Juvenile Fillies) and Admire Lead (Victoria Mile).
- Divine Light sired Natagora.
- Special Week sired Toho Jackal (Kikuka Sho), Buena Vista and Cesario (Yūshun Himba, American Oaks, dam of Epiphaneia).
- Manhattan Cafe sired Grape Brandy (February Stakes), Hiruno d'Amour (Tenno Sho), Jo Cappuccino (NHK Mile Cup) Red Desire (Shuka Sho) and Queens Ring (Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup).
- Neo Universe sired Unrivaled (Satsuki Shō), Logi Universe and Victoire Pisa. Victoire Pisa in turn sired the Oka Sho winner Jeweler.
- Zenno Rob Roy sired Saint Emilion (Yūshun Himba)
- Daiwa Major sired Curren Black Hill (NHK Mile Cup) and Major Emblem.
- Hat Trick sired Dabirsim and King David (Jamaica Handicap).
- Deep Impact sired Gentildonna, Kizuna, Harp Star, A Shin Hikari, Makahiki, Shonan Pandora, Beauty Parlour (Poule d'Essai des Pouliches), Ayusan (Oka Sho), Verxina (Victoria Mile), Tosen Ra (Mile Championship), Mikki Isle (NHK Mile Cup), Spielberg (Tennō Shō), Lachesis (Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup), Danon Shark (Mile Championship), Shonan Adela (Hanshin Juvenile Fillies), Danon Platina (Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes), Real Impact (George Ryder Stakes), Mikki Queen (Yūshun Himba, Shuka Sho), Marialite, Real Steel (Dubai Turf), Sinhalite (Yūshun Himba), Vivlos (Shuka Sho), Satono Diamond, Al Ain (Satsuki Sho) and Saxon Warrior (Racing Post Trophy, 2000 Guineas).
- Suzuka Phoenix sired Meiner Ho O (NHK Mile Cup)
- Gold Allure sired Espoir City (Japan Cup Dirt, February Stakes), Copano Rickey (February Stakes) and Gold Dream (February Stakes).
- Heart's Cry sired Just A Way, Admire Rakti, Cheval Grand (Japan Cup), Nuovo Record (Yūshun Himba) and One And Only (Tokyo Yūshun).
- Black Tide sired Kitasan Black(Kikuka-shō, Tenno Sho (Spring), Japan Cup, Osaka Hai, Tenno Sho (Spring,Autumn), Arima Kinen)
- Suzuka Mambo sired Meisho Mambo (Yushun Himba, Shuka Sho, Queen Elizabeth II Cup) and Sambista (Champions Cup)
Sunday Silence died on August 19, 2002. He had been treated for laminitis for the previous 14 weeks and had developed an infection in one leg as well. He had been given a stronger dose of a different painkilling medication the previous day to provide him relief, and apparently as a result, he had become comfortable enough to lie down for the first time in a week. The following morning, he appeared unable to rise, and while veterinarians were discussing what to do, he died, apparently of heart failure.
|Hail to Reason
|Royal Charger (GB)|
|Source Sucree (FR)|
dark brown 1944
|Gulf Stream (GB)|
|Dowager (Family: 3-e)|
In the horse racing game Derby Owners Club, Sunday Silence is one of the sires available to breed in the game. He is also pictured on one of the official game cards.
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