photo courtesy of Maui Boy
Lifetime record of 14-9-5-0 with $4,968,554 in earnings. Champion 3yo and Horse of the Year in 1989, won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Santa Anita Derby, Super Derby, and Breeders' Cup Classic. As a sire in Japan, from 9 crops so far he produced 10 champions and 75 stakes winners with total progeny earnings of over $323 million.
The sad news we all expected to hear arrived today. Sunday Silence finally lost his battle with laminitis today, suffering a fatal heart attack. The 16-year-old had been ill since May with an infection in his right leg which brought on laminitis in his left leg recently. His owners had been discussing whether to euthanize him or not for days, but finally on Monday he lay down in his stall, could not get back up, and eventually died of heart failure. He had been in a lot of pain which required strong pain killers to be administered.
The nearly black winner of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Breeders' Cup Classic over arch rival Easy Goer, was always a popular horse with the fans and will be mourned by many.
His story is well known by his many admirers. He was passed by in the sales ring twice as a yearling before finally selling in California as a 2-year-old in training for $32,000. In reality, this was a buy-back by his breeder Arthur Hancock who was going to send him back to Kentucky, but a van accident required him to stay in California. Hall of Fame trainer Charlie Whittingham bought a half interest in him and then sold half that to Dr. Ernest Gaillard. Although he showed ability, he didn't make it to the races until late in his 2-year-old season, winning a maiden special weight and finishing second in an allowance from three starts.
As a three-year-old, he debuted in March with an allowance win then went on to win the San Felipe Stakes and the Santa Anita Derby. This brought him into the Kentucky Derby as second favorite behind his east coast rival Easy Goer. He won that race by 2 1/2 lengths while Easy Goer disliked the mud and finished second. In the Preakness, he still went off the second favorite behind the highly touted Easy Goer and again won, although only by a nose this time after a hard fought stretch duel. Sunday Silence lost his bid for the Triple Crown by 8 lengths to Easy Goer on that one's home track in the Belmont. It did take the second fastest time in the history of the race to beat him though.
The two campaigned separately through the summer, with Sunday Silence winning the Super Derby and finishing second to eventual Breeders' Cup Turf winner Prized in the Swaps Stakes. They met again in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Gulfstream Park, where once again Sunday Silence went off as second choice. He got the lead in the stretch and held off Easy Goer's late rally to win by a neck. This gave him a record of seven wins in nine starts for the year and he easily won the 3-year-old championship and Horse of the Year honors. In 1996 he was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame.
He only got to start twice as a 4-year-old before an injured ligament led to his retirement. He was expected to stand as a stud at Stone Farm where he was born, but instead was sold to Japan to stand at the Shadai Stallion Station in Hokkaido. Japanese breeder Zenya Yoshida had bought a 25% interest in him early in his 4-year-old season and bought out the other partners for an undisclosed amount so he could export him.
Sunday Silence flourished in Japan and became one of their leading sires over the last decade, topping their sire list from 1995 through 2001. Out of nine crops so far, he has sired 934 foals with 822 starters and 517 winners. Of these, 75 are stakes winners and 10 were champions. Five of his progeny have earned over $5 million with the top earner being Special Week who retired in 1999 with earnings of $9,346,435, while his total progeny earnings are over $323 million so far. His champion offspring include Dance Partner (twice Japanese Champion) and To the Victory (who finished second in the 2001 Dubai World Cup), and Stay Gold (winner of the 2001 Hong Kong Vase).
Good bye Sunday Silence. You fought hard and we will miss you.
photo courtesy of Maui Boy
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