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Runnymede colt sold at Japan’s top auction


     The only American farm to participate in the dynamic Japanese bloodstock market, Runnymede proudly offered and sold an impeccably bred yearling colt in the Japan Racing Horse Association select sale at the Northern Horse Park.
        Committed to making a mark at the highest level on the global stage, Runnymede joined the European-based Niarchos family as one of less than a handful of international consignors at the prestigious sale of yearlings and foals held on July 11-12.
       Runnymede’s Japanese-bred colt, co-bred with Peter Callahan, was sired by the late champion and leading sire Agnes Tachyon, one of the most accomplished sons of Sunday Silence. Runnymede General Manager Martiin O'Dowd with the farm's Japanese-bred Agnes Tachyon colt (Michele MacDonald/Full Stride photo)The colt’s dam is Runnymede mare Hunter’s Mark, a half sister to current leading Japanese sire King Kamehameha.
      “I am pleased with the sale of our colt—he was a nice individual with a strong pedigree who attracted a lot of pre-sale attention and sold for a good figure. It is also good to know he was bought by a good owner and will be trained by a top trainer,” said Runnymede Vice President and General Manager Martin O’Dowd.
     A well-balanced chestnut, Runnymede’s colt—who was born at leading breeder Teruya Yoshida’s Shadai Farm and prepared for sale by the Shadai staff—was purchased by Hirotsugu Inokuma for ¥20-million ($243,903). Inokuma has about 120 horses in training in Japan.
    Overall, this year’s JRHA sale proved to be explosively strong, recording gains of 41.2% in gross and 23.8% in average price compared to the 2010 figures.
    Yoshida, who serves as vice chairman of the JRHA, attributed part of the robust sale figures to the unprecedented 1-2 finish of Japanese-bred champions Victoire Pisa and Transcend in the $10-million Dubai World Cup in March.
   “Japan has come back,” Yoshida said, adding that Japanese-breds now are proven to be world-class in ability.
     While in Japan to oversee the final sale preparations for Runnymede’s colt, O’Dowd also visited Hunter’s Mark, who is in foal to last year’s top-ranked international racehorse, Harbinger, a son of Dansili. Harbinger just completed his first season at stud at the Shadai Stallion Station.Hunter's Mark at Shadai Farm (Michele MacDonald/Full Stride photo)
     “She looked wonderful. She’s a beautiful mare and we’re really happy to own her,” O’Dowd said of Hunter’s Mark. “She is part of three branches of the outstanding family that we own, which includes the dam of Japanese champion Agnes Digital and our foundation mare Kazadancoa.”
    O’Dowd also had the opportunity to inspect Victoire Pisa, who was bred by Yoshida and is training at Shadai as he prepares to compete in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) at Longchamp in October. Yoshida graciously had his farm training staff lead out the big, dark bay colt by Neo Universe so that sale visitors could see him, and the earner of more than $12-million to date made a memorable impression.
     Soon after seeing Victoire Pisa, O'Dowd was given the opportunity to see Neo Universe, another son of Sunday Silence who is emerging as one of the top classic influences in Japan, as well as King Kamehameha, Harbinger and new sire sensation Deep Impact.
    “As always, the staff at the Shadai Stallion Station were very generous with their time and it was a true pleasure to see so many important young sires there who undoubtedly will make an impact on racing worldwide,” O'Dowd said.
     In addition to meeting with many of Japan’s top breeders and owners who attended the sale on the island of Hokkaido, which is the center of Japan’s breeding industry, O’Dowd also had the chance to visit a new training center being developed by Masashi Yoshida of Oiwake Farm and to see the Japan Bloodhorse Breeders’ Association’s Shizunai Stallion Station.
    “The training center is one of the most spectacular facilities I’ve ever encountered. It’s an absolutely great place to prepare a horse for racing,” said O’Dowd, noting the spacious barns and long, covered gallops. “I noticed how relaxed and content the horses were who were training there—and how enthusiastic they were about their work.”
     Shingo Nakanishi, D.V.M., general manager of the JBBA’s main stud, showed O’Dowd the farm’s newest stallion, former Juddmonte resident and Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Empire Maker, whose coat gleamed with dapples after his first season in Japan.
     Other stallions at the farm who were led out for inspection and photographs included 2004 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Bago and 1999 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) winner Charismatic, both of whom also appeared in outstanding condition after breeding season.
    One of the highlights of the visit to the Shizunai Stallion Station was the opportunity to see 1987 champion juvenile Forty Niner, who long has been a leading sire in Japan following his sale by Claiborne Farm. Now 26 and pensioned, the son of Mr. Prospector was in excellent health and condition.
     “I am so appreciative of Dr. Nakanishi, who took time out from his busy day to show us the stallions. The whole experience was so impressive, and it was so inspiring to see our American champion Forty Niner looking so splendid at his advanced age,” O’Dowd said.