Sumahama (Tomoya Moriuchi/Horsephotos.com)
Hyacinth Stakes Winner Sumahama
by Alastair Bull
The 1989 Kentucky Derby winner Sunday Silence became the ultimate breed-shaping stallion in Japanese Thoroughbred history, siring more than 170 stakes winners. There’s now a chance one of his grandsons might return to Churchill Downs to try to follow in his footsteps.
With his victory in the Hyacinth Stakes at Tokyo Feb. 18, Sumahama won the three-race Japanese Road to the Kentucky Derby series, earning an automatic spot in the Kentucky Derby field. Leading into the Hyacinth Stakes he had finished fourth on debut before winning his next two races, all on dirt.
Sumahama was positioned near the lead in the Hyacinth Stakes for most of the race before surging clear in the stretch to win by 2 ½ lengths. Though the Hyacinth was raced over a mile, Sumahama has already won twice at nine furlongs.
At the time of the Hyacinth Stakes he wasn’t nominated for the U.S. Triple Crown races, and it remains to be seen if they will nominate him.
If he is nominated, Sumahama should have a pedigree that will allow him to stay 1 ¼ miles. He is by Sunday Silence’s son Neo Universe, Japan’s champion 3-year-old of 2003 following wins in the first two legs of the Japanese Triple Crown, the 1 ¼-mile Satsuki Sho and the 1 ½-mile Tokyo Yushun.
At stud Neo Universe has been overshadowed by some of Sunday Silence’s other sons, but he’s still sired more than 25 stakes winners. His two most accomplished sons scored major victories over 1 ¼ miles: Victoire Pisa, winner of the 2011 Dubai World Cup (G1) on the synthetic Meydan track, and Neorealism, victorious in the 2017 Queen Elizabeth Cup in Hong Kong. Victoire Pisa was also able to win the 1 9/16-mile Arima Kinen (G1), and several other of Neo Universe’s progeny have won past 1 ¼ miles.
Sumahama’s dam is Sound the Beach, a daughter of the 1987 Canadian Horse of the Year Afleet. A stakes winner over nine furlongs in Japan on dirt, she has produced three winners in her breeding career to date. Sound the Beach is out of Nagisa (Markofdistinction), who finished fourth in the 11-furlong Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup (now a Grade 1 race), and further back she traces to the dam of QE II Commemorative Cup winner Victoria Crown.
At this point Sumahama’s trainer Ryo Takahashi isn’t certain his colt will find his way out of Japan, and he would be a risky Kentucky Derby bet at this point. But if he does come, he shouldn’t lack stamina.
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