For the past decade, Deep Impact has carried all before him as the dominant influence in Japanese breeding, seamlessly assuming the role so effectively held by his sire, Sunday Silence, in the years before.
Thus his death late last month at the age of 17 was a crushing blow, not just to the Japanese Thoroughbred but internationally as well. Based throughout his stud career at the Shadai Stallion Station, he leaves behind 42 G1 winners - and counting - and is well on course for an eighth consecutive Japanese sires’ championship. All the while, he remains an international force thanks to the likes of Saxon Warrior, Study Of Man, September and Beauty Parlour.
Lord Kanaloa, another heavyweight of the Shadai stallion roster and already up to world #8 in the latest TRC standings with just three crops racing, is seemingly poised to become the next champion stallion of Japan and duly received a number of mares that had been booked to Deep Impact before his season was curtailed by the neck injury that ultimately proved fatal.
Other mares, some European-based, were also dispersed between Heart’s Cry, Daiwa Major and Harbinger. Meanwhile, a number of Deep Impact’s sons are also starting to make noise, in particular the Japanese Derby hero Kizuna, whose first crop of juveniles includes recent G3 scorer Bien Fait, and G1 winner Real Impact, already the sire of eight first-crop winners.
Amid the fervoured desire for Deep Impact blood, however, emerges one name deserving of further attention - his full sibling Black Tide.
Black Tide never came close to attaining the iconic status of Deep Impact in a racing career that spanned 22 starts. While Deep Impact won all bar two of his 14 races, among them seven at G1 level, Black Tide greeted the winners enclosure on three occasions, his best performance coming when taking the Fuji-TV Sho Spring Stakes, a trial for the Japanese 2000 Guineas. Unfortunately, Black Tide was injured in the Guineas itself and only resumed racing after an absence of more than two years. He remained in training until a 7-year-old for trainer Yasuo Ikee but never won again.
In all likelihood, Black Tide owed his place at stud to his illustrious family connections, but in fairness to the horse, he has gone on to vindicate that decision, notably as the sire of champion Kitasan Black, who is seventh on the list of highest-earners in racing history.
Foaled in 2001, Black Tide was the first foal by Sunday Silence out of Oaks runner-up Wind In Her Hair, John Hills’ 1995 Aral Pokal winner and a member of the Queen’s famous Highclere family.
At that time, the Alzao mare had already thrown a smart runner in Veil Of Avalon, winner of the G3 De La Rose Handicap. Access to Sunday Silence, however, took matters to a different level.
What is particularly noticeable regarding Black Tide is his physical resemblance to Sunday Silence. He was followed by Deep Impact, foaled in 2002, and then the stakes-placed On Fire, latterly average at stud. A switch to Sunday Silence’s son, Agnes Tachyon, followed, to whom she foaled listed winner New Beginning.
Black Tide entered stud at the Breeders Stallion Station in Hokkaido for the 2009 season, two years after the retirement of Deep Impact. With Deep Impact busy covering books north of 200 mares at Shadai at a hefty fee, Black Tide became the affordable option and was duly popular, never covering less than 100 mares from 2009 to 2017. Such ammunition has naturally come in handy, helping him to record an overall tally of close to 400 winners, among them 123 as juveniles.
The worth of sending Black Tide to stud swiftly became apparent when he ended 2012 as the resounding leading first-crop Japanese sire. Among his 16 first-crop winners was G2 scorer T M Inazuma while G3 winner Meiner Frost, who also ran third in the Japanese Derby, led the away among his second crop.
It was Horse of the Year Kitasan Black who brought Black Tide to international attention. One of 115 foals from his third crop, Kitasan Black epitomised the bold Japanese approach to racing as the winner of 12 races ranging from the G1 Osaka Hai and Tenno Sho Autumn over 1m2f to successive renewals of the G1 Tenno Sho Spring over two miles. His haul also included the Japan Cup (1m4f), Arima Kinen (1m4½f) and Kikuka Sho (1m7f), so it was no surprise to see him command a fee of 5,000,000 yen (£38,700) when he retired last season to the Shadai Stallion Station.
His first crop recently averaged close to $400,000 at the JRHA Select Foal Sale, where his ten representatives included a 160,000,000yen (£1,240,000) three-parts brother to Horse of the Year Gentildonna out of G1 Cheveley Park Stakes winner Donna Blini.
Nothing among Black Tide’s other progeny has since come close to the calibre of Kitasan Black - at the peak of Kitasan Black’s career, Black Tide was as high as #33 in the TRC Global Sires' turf rankings, but the TRC algorithm has dropped him quickly since. Nevertheless there has been another G3 winner in Rising Reason and now a classy 3yo in recent Tachibana Stakes scorer Deep Diver.
Now 18-years-old, Black Tide is very much the domain of the Japanese breeder. But, as Kitasan Black proved, he is very capable and as such, remains a useful outlet for those looking to tap into the Wind In Her Hair influence.