Leontes, Another Sweet Fruit by a Mare Out of Not Quite Successful Combination

The Sunday Asahi Fai Futurity Stakes (G1) at Hansin was taken impressively by the two-year-old son of King Kamehama, Leontes. The bay colt, bred at the mighty Northern Farm, was one of the best-bred horse in the field. His sire is now the number two in Japan behind Deep Impact, his dam Cesario had an exceptional racing career and performs greatly at stud. Three years before Leontes she gave birth to the winner of the Japan Cup and the second in the Tokyo Yushun (The Derby) Epiphaneia.

Sunday Silence has had a deep impact on Japanese breeding and although his influence is locally limited he can be classified among the most successful sires in history. The same can be said, without any geographical limitation, about Sadler’s Wells. Together, however, they did not perform really well.

A number of Sadler’s Wells’s daughters were imported to Japan and a large part of them were partners of Sunday Silence. According to the statistics of Equiline, Sunday Silence produced with the daughters of Sadler’s Wells a total of fifty foals of racing age, only three of them, however, were able to win in a black-type race. This is well below the level of all Sunday Silence’s population, in which we can find 11% share of black-type winners.

Neither his sons fared better with the daughters of the once Coolmore giant. The biggest opportunity among them was given to Agnes Tachyon but none of his twenty-six foals of racing age won a black-type race. The honour to be written in catalogues in bold capitals eluded all twenty-four products of Fuji Kiseki, seventeen products of Dance In The Dark, fourteen products of Stay Gold (although Jamil achieved a G2 place) and all twenty products of Daiwa Major and five products of Bubble Gum Fellow which these stallions produced with the daughters of Sadler’s Wells.

There was a better performance by Manhattan Cafe, Neo Universe, Deep Impact and Special Week. Each of these produced a single black-type winner with a daughter of Sadler’s Wells. Neo Universe produced with Ballet Queen, the unraced daughter of the Oaks winner Sun Princess and the sister of the Gr.1 winner Prince of Dance, the winner of the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2,000 Guineas) Unrivaled, Deep Impact with the winner of the Ascot Fillies Mile (G1) Listen the Gr.2 winner and Gr.1 placed Touching Speech.

A numerous opportunity with daughters of Sadler’s Wells was given to the winner of Tokyo Yushun and Japan Cup Special Week, who produced in Japan twenty-three foals of racing age out of daughters of Sadler’s Wells. Just a single one of them succeeded in a black-type race, but the more important success it was – the champion and two-time Gr.1 winner Cesario.

Her dam Kirov Premiere was acquired for USD 280,000 at the Keeneland November Sale 1994 by Katsumi Yoshida. The winner of the Rutgers Breeders' Cup Handicap (G3) over 1 and ⅜ mile on turf represented a leading European family. Her dam Querida was the half-sister of the July Cup and Sussex Stakes winner Chief Singer, her granddam Pia showed a great form as a two-year-old over short distances and as a three-year-old won the Oaks.

The first two progeny of Kirov Premiere, the sons of Sunday Silence Proton and Millennium Dancer, won three races each, two in Tokubetsu races, important Japanese races not classified as black-type. The dirt specialist the gelding Farukh, also by Sunday Silence, proved to be a tough horse who ran just in small, low-prize-money races on local racecourse but had eighty-five races in six seasons and turned seventeen of them in victory. The maiden Kirov Opera (Pentire) raced just once and another son of Kirov Premiere, the colt Dark Potential (Dance in the Dark) left the racecourse without a win too.

After five sons Kirov Premiere gave birth to her first daughter named Cesario. She was beaten just one in five races when she finished second in the Oka Sho, the Japanese 1,000 Guineas. The winner of the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) was even invited to the American Oaks (G1) at Hollywood Park which she won – a year after another Japanese filly Dance in the Mood finished second – by a length and became the historically first Japanese Gr.1 winner in the United States.

At the time of the biggest achievement of her progeny, however, Kirov Premiere was based in Australia where she was transported after the birth of Cesarion and where she spent the rest of her career. The Gr.3 placed Savannah’s Choice was here most successful Australian product.

After her racing career Cesario became one of the stars of the strong broodmare lineup at Northern Farm but the first two products brought her no great fame. The colt Twelfth Night by King Kamehameha raced just once and won a minor race, his one year younger full sister Viola never raced. The subsequent visit to the Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem, notorious for his unwillingness to fulfil his duties as sire, did not produce success either but then the mare was covered by the two-time Japanese Horse of the Year Symboli Kris S and the result of the connection of two individuals belonging to the Hail To Reason line, much successful in Japan, was the above mentioned Japan Cup winner Epiphaneia.

Epiphaneia’s one year younger full sister Rosalind did not follow in her brother’s footsteps and achieved just one second place of six races; Claudio, too, by the European champion Harbinger, stayed in the average, winning just a single maiden race this year. But then came the second ace. Although the first two matings with King Kamehameha produced no great results she visited him in 2012 again and on January 29, 2013 gave birth to Leontes, followed by two full brothers, a yearling and a filly who was foaled this year.

Leontes, unbeaten in two races, the second Gr.1 winner produced by Cesario, showed a fantastic finish in the closing stages of Asahi Fai Futurity Stakes (G1), clocking the last two hundred metres for 10.8 and 11.7 seconds, with a total mile time 1:34,4 which is an excellent time for a two-year-old even in Japan. I don’t think this is the last time we heard about him.

Miloslav Vlček

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