Horse > Sunday Silence
Nothing ever came easy for Sunday Silence. Born on March 25, 1986, the young black colt immediately met hard times. He survived a near-fatal virus as a weanling, and was then involved in a car accident where his van flipped over after the driver had a heart attack.
When he was offered for sale as a yearling, nobody wanted him, and he was bought back by Arthur B. Hancock III. Eventually, trainer Charlie Whittingham bought a half-share, and he sold half of his share to California-based owner Dr. Ernest Gaillard.
Sunday Silence didn’t race until late in his 2-year-old season in 1988, winning once and finishing second twice, all in non-stakes races. But as an early 3-year-old he won an allowance, the San Felipe Stakes and the Santa Anita Derby before marching toward the Triple Crown.
The Kentucky Derby became a contest of east vs west, with Sunday Silence representing the west and the east’s flagbearer being the Champion 2-year-old colt, Easy Goer. The latter started favorite after seven wins in nine starts, but Sunday Silence handled the wet conditions much better and won by 2-1/2 lengths.
The track was dry for the Preakness Stakes and the pair staged an epic clash, with Sunday Silence narrowly triumphing. But with the Triple Crown on the line in the Belmont Stakes, Easy Goer won by eight lengths.
Easy Goer propelled himself through the summer as the horse to beat, winning five major stakes races including the Travers, Whitney, Woodward and Jockey Gold Cup. Back west, Sunday Silence was beaten in the Swaps Stakes before winning the Super Derby. When he met Easy Goer one final time in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Sunday Silence was a bit too good, holding off a fast-finishing Easy Goer.
The Breeders’ Cup Classic win ensured Sunday Silence won the Eclipse Award for Champion 3-year-old and for Horse of the Year.
Sunday Silence raced again in 1990 but suffer an injured ligament early on which led to his retirement. Though short, Sunday Silence’s career was sweet. In 14 starts, Sunday Silence won nine and finished second five times. His career earnings were $4,968,554. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996.
Despite an amazing career on the track, there wasn’t much American interest in him as a sire and he was sold to Zenya Yoshida of Shadai Farm in Japan. There, Sunday Silence became a breed-shaping sensation. He was Japan’s leading sire every year from 1995 to 2007, sired the winners of 20 of Japan’s 22 group 1 races, and left a number of outstanding sire sons. Current Japanese superstar sire Deep Impact is the best of them, but his sire sons also include Fuji Kiseki, Stay Gold, Manhattan Café, Gold Allure, and Heart’s Cry.