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2016 Kentucky Derby Pedigrees: Lani

By Kellie Reilly

Japan-based Lani will have to buck the negative stats against UAE Derby (G2) winners in the Kentucky Derby (G1), but at least he’s got a tremendous pedigree going for him.

A homebred campaigned by Yoko Maeda, Lani is a Kentucky native who shares the same sire as Mohaymen and Cupid – the fantastically successful Tapit. The Seattle Slew-line scion captured the Wood Memorial (G1) and Laurel Futurity (G3) during his brief racing career, but that fades into memory as his achievements at stud take precedence. The North American record-setting sire by single-season progeny earnings (in both 2014 and 2015), he stands for a $300,000 stud fee.

Tapit has already sired three US champions in Untapable, Hansen, and Stardom Bound. Each scored Breeders’ Cup wins in their respective divisions (Distaff, Juvenile, and Juvenile Fillies), and Tapitsfly (Juvenile Fillies Turf) and Tapizar (Dirt Mile) bring their sire’s BC total up to five.

But Tapit’s stock has risen on the Triple Crown trail over the past couple of years. His son Tonalist landed the 2014 Belmont (G1) before adding two Jockey Club Gold Cups (G1) and a Cigar Mile (G1). Frosted, who emulated Tapit by taking the Wood, was runner-up to American Pharoah in last year’s Belmont. 

[Update: Check out the pedigree profile of Tapit’s latest Derby contender, Creator.]

Lani’s dam, the Sunday Silence mare Heavenly Romance, famously upset then-reigning Japanese Horse of the Year Zenno Rob Roy in the 2005 Tenno Sho Autumn. Her other major victory over males, the Sapporo Kinen, likewise came at about 1 1/4 miles on turf. As an interesting aside, her jockey, Mikio Matsunaga, is now the trainer of Lani.

After spending her first few years as a broodmare in Japan, Heavenly Romance came stateside. The move apparently agreed with her, for all three of her Kentucky-bred runners are stakes winners on dirt. Like Lani, the other two are also based in Japan with Matsunaga, and both enhanced their resumes in March.

Awardee, by the Japanese stallion Jungle Pocket, is the foal that Heavenly Romance was carrying when imported. Awardee scored his signature win in last October’s Sirius (G3) at about 1 1/4 miles, and he extended his winning streak to three with a 25-length rout in the Nagoya Daishoten on March 17.

Heavenly Romance visited leading sire Smart Strike in her first Kentucky breeding season, and the resulting filly, Amour Briller, has garnered four black-type wins at distances from about 1 1/4 to about 1 9/16 miles. Third to dirt star (and three-time Dubai World Cup [G1] participant) Hokko Tarumae in the January 27 Kawasaki Kinen, Amour Briller successfully defended her title in the March 2 Empress Hai last out over the same track.

Heavenly Romance’s sire, Sunday Silence, was a legend on the track and at stud. The winner of the 1989 Kentucky Derby and Preakness (G1), he was denied by archrival Easy Goer in the Belmont, but gained revenge in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) to secure Horse of the Year honors – and ultimately a plaque in the Hall of Fame.

As a breed-shaping sire in Japan, Sunday Silence will endure in pedigrees for generations through such sons as Deep Impact, Heart’s Cry, Stay Gold, Fuji Kiseki, Special Week, Daiwa Major, the aforementioned Zenno Rob Roy, Manhattan Café, Dance in the Dark, and Black Tide. Sunday Silence is exerting an influence as well through his daughters, who have produced such Japanese champions as Admire Moon, Screen Hero, and Duramente as well as Australian champion More Joyous and French classic/Breeders’ Cup Mile star Karakontie.

Heavenly Romance’s maternal side is resplendent with transatlantic class. Her dam, First Act, is by European supersire Sadler’s Wells (of Galileo, Montjeu and High Chaparral fame), and a half-sister to Irish St Leger (G1) heroine Dark Lomond. They are out of the triple classic-placed Arkadina, a daughter of the immortal *Ribot and Broodmare of the Year Natashka.

Lani’s sixth dam is Vagrancy, a champion twice over and prolific broodmare whose descendants include 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand. Further back, the female line traces to the great Frizette, ancestress of 1977 Triple Crown hero Seattle Slew, 1947 Derby victor Jet Pilot, and patriarch Mr. Prospector.

Pedigree information courtesy Brisnet.com.

Lani (gray in center) photo courtesy Dubai Racing Club/Andrew Watkins.