With horses like this, no wonder Lord Kanaloa was the world’s outstanding second-season sire

Saturnalia (Mirco Demuro) winning the G1 Hopeful Stakes at Nakayama last week. The son of Lord Kanaloa is a strong contender to develop into the best of Japan’s 2019 classic crop. Photo: Japanese Racing Association

Success stories abounded in the stallion ranks through 2018. Scat Daddy rose to world #3 in the TRC Global Rankings largely on the back of U.S. Triple Crown winner Justify, the still strangely undervalued Kitten’s Joy produced Europe’s Cartier Horse of the Year Roaring Lion and topped the North American money list, and Galileo won his tenth European sires’ title, although his progeny earned less than Dubawi’s worldwide and he was overtaken by the Darley stallion as TRC #1.

Snitzel made it back-to-back Australian championships and was the highest-earning non-Japan-based sire on the planet, although he is currently behind Yarraman Park’s prolific I Am Invincible (world #5) in the battle to be top Aussie-based stallion in our standings.

But, entering 2019, the most momentum is with none of these. It lies instead at the famed Shadai Stallion Station in Japan, and not with the awesome Deep Impact, currently world #4 based on the TRC system of evaluating Group and Graded results, and a towering presence atop the world money list - his $67 million 2018 total is more than the next two (King Kamehameha and Heart’s Cry) put together.

Of course, the international stallion earnings list as compiled at Bloodhorse.com is dominated by the riches on offer on a daily basis in Japan. The top six are all based there. The seventh is Snitzel (helped not inconsiderably by Redzel’s $4.75 cheque for winning The Everest for a second time).

The stallion we’re concerned with here is next in that list, making Lord Kanaloa far and away the world’s outstanding second-season sire by any measure. Eighth place in the international earnings table (with $22 million) puts him two or three levels ahead of all others whose progeny have just completed their second year on the track. We like to think a far superior assessment is his position in the TRC rankings, which has him similarly well clear.

The 2013 Japanese Horse of the Year started 2018 well enough, but the early focus in Japan was more on fellow second-seasoner (and fellow ex-Horse of the Year) Orfevre, and later they were both overshadowed by the exploits in Europe of Coolmore’s dual Derby winner Camelot.

Albeit with a creditable two G1 wins, Orfevre has ended the year at #109 in the TRC rankings - a fine position for a second-season sire, but there are no signs of parts of the planet starting to shatter just yet. Camelot is an even-more-impressive #47, with three G1 wins and lashings of promise for the coming 12 months. But in truth the pair have been eclipsed well and truly by the six-time G1 winner, who was probably the fastest Japanese sprinter of the past decade.

Of course, we have written here about Lord Kanaloa’s progress this year on several occasions, most recently last month, when James Willoughby selected him at the top of his list of Nine stallions who look on their way to international stardom.

Much of Willoughby’s evidence was based on the emergence of the prodigious filly Almond Eye, the daughter of Lord Kanaloa who had just beaten an all-aged field of leading international runners to win the Japan Cup, and had previously won all three legs of the Japanese Filly Triple Crown.

What Willoughby didn’t know at the time was that Lord Kanaloa had another mighty arrow to fire, and he did that last week, when Saturnalia won the $1.3 million G1 Hopeful Stakes, the final big juvenile race of the year in Japan, so impressively (see video below) that most experts are now accepting him as the outstanding Japanese 2-year-old of 2018. “I knew I was riding the strongest 2-year-old of the season,” jockey Mirco Demuro said after the race. “I am really looking forward to his 3-year-old season.”

So Lord Kanaloa has produced the best of the generation in Japan from his first crop, and probably the best of the next generation from his second. That at the end of a second season that has yielded six G1 wins.

Saturnalia’s victory lifts the sire to #26 in the TRC Global Rankings, which puts him second only to Deep Impact among Japan-based stallions. (Remember, the rankings take no notice whatsoever of prize money accumulation, they are concerned purely with quality of performance.)

Of course, Lord Kanaloa’s pedigree is right out of the top drawer. While the son of King Kamehameha may have no Sunday Silence in his blood, there are so many other great influences there, including Mr Prospector and Miesque (responsible for his grandsire Kingmambo) and his dam’s sire, Storm Cat, who, lest we forget, was blessed with Northern Dancer as grandsire on one side of his pedigree and Secretariat similarly on the other.

No wonder Lord Kanaloa’s fee for 2019 has shot up with the kind of trajectory that even NASA would be proud of: he was already standing at $70,000 last season; he is now at just over $130,000.

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