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New Zealand could be fertile ground for Deep Impact’s boys

It’s early days for Satono Aladdin and Staphanos but the sons of Japan’s great champion are showing that they might have the potential to carry on their sire’s legacy within New Zealand’s bloodlines.

The legendary Deep Impact at Shadai Stallion Station in Hokkaido. (Photo by Lo Chun Kit)

Tokyo Tycoon’s exciting victory in the Karaka Million last weekend was the latest example of the great Deep Impact’s international reach – expanding even from beyond the grave – and another signal that his stallion sons in New Zealand are showing early signs of their potential to be a significant influence on Australasian bloodlines.

The unbeaten juvenile is from the second southern hemisphere crop of Satono Aladdin, a Shadai Stallion Station shuttler to John Thompson’s Rich Hill Stud, one of only two sons of Deep Impact to stand in New Zealand this season, along with Novara Park Stud’s full-time resident, Staphanos.

Across the Tasman Sea, Deep Impact had three sons covering mares on Australian soil this season, Coolmore’s English 2,000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior, the Leneva Park-based Fierce Impact and Woodside Park Stud’s Tosen Stardom. Those that have stood in the past include the Shadai to Arrowfield shuttlers Mikki Isle, Real Steel and Real Impact.

But Tokyo Tycoon’s success is a particular boon to those in New Zealand that have put their faith in the Deep Impact sire line, and there is a hope among them that the sons of Japan’s 11-time champion sire will invigorate the country’s bloodlines as they impact the stallion ranks.

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Tokyo Tycoon wins the Karaka Million 2YO. (Photo by Trish Dunell)

Thompson has on his Rich Hill roster full-time the nation’s current leading sire, Proisir – a son of the Danehill line Australian sprinter Choisir – who is making a strong advance to take the champion sire’s mantle from the ageing Savabeel, himself a son and grandson of the massively influential New Zealand champion sires Zabeel and Sir Tristram. 

Yet the breeder has long seen the potential in Satono Aladdin as well, or at least the positive impact the Deep Impact sire line might have on New Zealand bloodstock. He first welcomed the emerging Shadai stallion in the spring of 2018 and this year the covering fee was set at NZ$12,500 (US$8,100).

“Satono Aladdin has got a nice crop of foals on the ground, and he served a big book for me last year,” Thompson told Asian Racing Report.

That bodes well, especially after Covid-affected flights resulted in the G1 Yasuda Kinen victor being unable to shuttle in 2020, meaning no Satono Aladdin yearlings at the Karaka sale next week. His 13 progeny offered at Karaka Book 1 in the last two years sold for an average of around NZ$110,000 (US$71,600). 

“He’s by Deep Impact, of course, but I believe the key to him is that female family,” Thompson continued. “New Zealand has always been best going back, traditionally, on the English bloodlines, most of the stallions here have got that lovely English breeding. But Satono Aladdin brings the Deep Impact and the Storm Cat together via his dam, then back to Fappiano and then of course Nijinsky. It’s lovely genetic stuff.”

Satono Aladdin wins the G2 Keio Hai Spring Cup at Tokyo in 2016. (Photo by Lo Chun Kit)

Luigi Muollo, like Thompson, and Arrowfield Stud’s John Messara before them in Australia, saw the rich potential of a highly-performed stallion from the Deep Impact line and secured the multiple Group 1 place-getter Staphanos to stand at Novara Park, this year at a fee of NZ$7,000 (US$4,500). He sees those bloodlines entering the mix as being important to the vibrancy of the New Zealand lines. Staphanos’ dam sire is Kurofune, from the Deputy Minister branch of the Northern Dancer line.

“It definitely helps to get blood from different parts of the world,” Muollo said. “You end up with so many mares here having Danehill that you try to find a stallion that doesn’t have Danehill, just to complement your broodmare band. Arrowfield took that approach, to go out and find what didn’t have Danehill in the blood, and that’s been my philosophy with all my stallions, they’ve all been Danehill free.

“And I think Japan is doing the same as well because they’ve got so much Deep Impact that they need to get a bit more of the Danzig lines in there, or Sadler’s Wells, you know, all the blood that they don’t have, just to enhance their broodmare band; some of those Deep Impacts over Deep Impact or Sunday Silence over Sunday Silence haven’t worked; Danehill over Danehill doesn’t work.”

Muollo pointed to the introduction of the Giant’s Causeway-Storm Cat line to Japan via the first season sire Bricks And Mortar, as breeders there look at the success they have had with Deep Impact and Sunday Silence over Storm Cat line mares, and reverse it so that the Storm Cat line stallion covers Deep Impact’s huge supply of daughters and granddaughters.

Bricks And Mortar wins the 2019 Breeders Cup Turf. (Photo by Horsephotos/Getty Images)

Deep Impact wins his farewell race, the 2006 Arima Kinen at Nakayama. (Photo by JRA)

But while Deep Impact’s success made him the in-demand stallion of his age at home, and despite the shrewdest of all, John Magnier, and the Niarchos family and Messsara seeing the appeal of the late, great stallion, New Zealand breeders have still needed to be convinced to send their mare to one of his stallion sons.

“It’s funny, he’s had a few sons in Australia, but it’s just taken a while for people to get their heads around it,” Thompson said. “But you go back in history and probably there’s never been a horse that’s thrown English classic winners and been champion sire in Japan; he’s also had top horses in Australia; we haven’t really had any sons of Deep Impact race in New Zealand but whatever happens in Australia is pretty common with what happens in New Zealand.”

He and Muollo credited the success of other Japanese stallions, not of the Deep Impact line, such as Screen Hero’s champion son Maurice, as helping open breeders to the idea of breeding to a Japanese sire. Maurice was Australia’s leading second season sire last term and has produced the G1 Australian Guineas winner Hitotsu.  

Staphanos has had only three two-year-olds race so far in this his first season with runners, and already his daughter Pignan – from a first crop of 77 foals – has bagged a win and is stakes placed.

Staphanos working at Sha Tin ahead of the 2018 International Races. (Photo by Vince Caligiuri)

Satono Aladdin, meanwhile, had a pair of Group 3 winners last year from his first southern hemisphere crop of 63, and currently sits ninth in the New Zealand stallion premiership thanks to Tokyo Tycoon’s earnings, with six wins this term from 19 individual runners. He produced 43 foals in his second New Zealand crop.

Early signs are at least promising that in time one or both sons of Deep Impact could mix it with the likes of the ageing champion Savabeel and the ascendant Proisir in the upper reaches of the stallion roster.

“A few years ago, I was probably worried about the strength of the stallion roster in New Zealand, in that here’s Savabeel but who else have we got to compete in the international jurisdictions like Australia and Hong Kong?” Muollo said.  

“But now we’ve got Proisir on his way up, we’ve got Turn Me Loose on his way up, we’ve got Satono Aladdin on his way up. Then there’s Per Incanto still doing it in Hong Kong; there’s a full range of stallions here and I’m quite confident that what we’ve got is still well spread and we’ve still got young blood here.”

Per Incanto's power and speed has made him the ideal sire for Hong Kong success. (Photo by Little Avondale Stud)

Savabeel holds off all comers in the 2004 Cox Plate at Moonee Valley. (Photo by Getty Images)

Thompson noted: “We were so lucky to have had Sir Tristram followed by Zabeel followed by Savabeel; without that influence our breeding and racing industry would be in a far lesser state but we’ve got some lovely young stallions coming through.”

Whether or not Satono Aladdin shuttles back to Rich Hill next spring will depend on what Shadai’s plans are but Thompson is certainly looking to build on the momentum so far.

“That’s the plan,” he said. “We have dealt with Shadai for a long time, we had Pentire with Shadai for a number of years, so we’ve got a long-term relationship with them.”

And that is precious. Deep Impact’s untimely passing three and a half years ago means it’s no easy task getting hold of a good stallion son of the great Japanese champion. Time will tell, of course, but Thompson’s Shadai relationship and Muollo’s conviction to back his faith in the Deep Impact line might reward New Zealand breeders for generations to come. 

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