Sol Oriens is another feather in Kitasan Black’s cap

The brilliant Satsuki Sho winner is by the impressive young sire Kitasan Black out of a mare that has surprised her former trainer in establishing her place as a proven producer of quality racehorses in Japan.

Japan's latest sensation Sol Oriens is a son of Kitasan Black. (Photo by Shuhei Okada)

David Morgan

Chief Journalist


Liberty Island’s brilliant deep-closing G1 Oka Sho win seemed to have ensured her status as the brightest star among this year’s Classic crop in Japan, then along came Sol Oriens. One week on, the Kitasan Black colt matched the ‘wow’ of the filly’s performance when winning the G1 Satsuki Sho, and, just like that, Japan has two burgeoning superstars heading to Tokyo next month for the Oaks and Derby, respectively.

Both horses wear the colours of Yoshida family affiliated racing clubs, both are by sires with only five covering seasons behind them, and both are out of mares that were purchased and imported from overseas.

The Shadai Racehorse Co. Ltd.-owned Sol Oriens is from the second crop by the sire-of-the-moment Kitasan Black, a rising force in the mighty Shadai Stallion Station ranks. The 11-year-old is looking as if he might make up for the untimely loss in 2021 at age nine of Liberty Island’s sire Duramente, his standout contemporary from Japan’s strong Classic class of 2015.

After the stunning victory of his first crop son Equinox – now the world’s top-rated horse – in last month’s G1 Dubai Sheema Classic, Kitasan Black has among his offspring Japan’s two hottest colts.



Equinox set a new Meydan 2400m course record in the G1 Sheema Classic. (Photo by Shuhei Okada)

Kitasan Black is a rising star among Japan's homegrown stallion ranks. (Photo by Lo Chun Kit)

But you need a mare as well to make a racehorse: Asian Racing Report cast the spotlight on Liberty Island’s Australian Group 1-winning dam Yankee Rose after the Oka Sho and Sol Oriens, for his part, is out of owner/breeder Leonidas Marinopoulos’ homebred Skia, a less-lauded mare that was bred and raced in Europe. 

Skia is already an established producer in Japan thanks to her G1-Dubai Turf-placed son Vin De Garde, but add Sol Oriens to the picture and she looks like yet another remarkably sagacious purchase by the Yoshida family.

Carlos Laffon-Parias trained the daughter of Motivator to win three of her 16 races in France, the career peak being a Group 3 win on soft ground at Toulouse in November 2011, her final start.

“She was a lovely filly and always showed me the quality, but she has surprised me (as a broodmare) because she was so small, and she is by Motivator,” Laffon-Parias told Asian Racing Report.

“Most of those Motivators are that bit difficult but she was not, she was a very easy filly to train, but Motivator horses like the soft ground, we know him as a good broodmare sire, but in Europe, not in Japan, so with this and because of her physical, being small, I did not expect the mare to produce what she has.”

Leonidas Marinopoulos. (Photo by Tattersalls)

It seems that Marinopoulos, whose stud farm is Haras de Lieu Marmion near Deauville, France, had similar thoughts, given that the mare was sold at Arqana in 2014, knocked down to agent Patrick Barbe for €320,000 and sent to join the Shadai broodmare band.

So far, including the unbeaten Sol Oriens and Vin De Garde, Skia has foaled seven offspring in Japan and all six that have raced have won at least two races each.

Skia is a half-sister to another French export to Asia, the Singapore Gold Cup winner Tropaios, being out of the Quest For Fame mare Light Quest, a US-bred but European-rooted half-sister to the British Group 2 winner Arabian Gleam. It is the family of the G1 2,000 Guineas and G1 Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Don’t Forget Me.

“I bought Light Quest at Newmarket for the Marinopoulos family,” Laffon-Parias said, recalling the 24,000 guineas Tattersalls yearling he secured in October 2001. 

Like her foals Tropaios and Skia after her, and the likes of the high-class Presvis and Balius, Light Quest raced in the Marinopoulos silks of silver stars on dark blue, before retiring to the paddocks.    

Skia had produced her first couple of foals for the Marinopouloses before being sold east: the maiden Nisea and the modest one-time winner Ifiandra, both trained by Laffon-Parias.

After delivering Albertine, a Leroidesanimaux filly, in Japan in the spring of 2015, Skia was then covered by the new sensation, Deep Impact, and the result was Vin De Garde. That was her only mating with the great stallion, but in 2020, with Vin De Garde then a four-time winner yet to make his mark in Pattern grade, Skia was among the second batch of mares sent to Kitasan Black, Deep Impact’s nephew.

Two-time Dubai Turf placegetter Vin De Garde. (Photo by JRA)

Kitasan Black is by Black Tide, Deep Impact’s older full-brother by two years. Black Tide put his hand up for a shot at the Classics in 2004 when he won the G2 Spring Stakes at Nakayama, but after running 16th in the Satsuki Sho he failed to win again in a career that concluded in June 2008. In the interim, little brother Deep Impact bagged a host of majors including a Triple Crown and got a two-season head-start at stud.

The late Deep Impact has so far sired 58 G1 winners from 1,626 individual runners in Japan alone; Black Tide has produced Kitasan Black plus a handful of G2 and G3 winners from his 841 offspring to have raced.

But in Kitasan Black he – and the unraced mare Sugar Heart – gave the world a superb athlete, a dark-hued horse, sleek but strong, with depth of girth, length of leg, a big stride, and the aerobic capacity of a champion. Unraced as a juvenile, after running third to Duramente in the 2015 Satsuki Sho, Kitasan Black’s three-season career featured wins in most of Japan’s biggest races from 10 furlongs to two miles: the Kikuka Sho, Osaka Hai, Tenno Sho Spring (two times), Tenno Sho Autumn, Japan Cup, and Arima Kinen.

His first crop to race in 2021 did enough to put him fourth in the first-season sire’s list and 106th overall. Last year he ascended to 16th and he is currently seventh. With his stock expected to improve with age, there is a growing sense that he could be champion sire material.

Kitasan Black wins the G1 Osaka Hai. (Photo by Lo Chun Kit)

Given Deep Impact’s incredible 11-season reign as Japan’s champion sire, there is a natural inclination among outside observers to look for one of his sons to emerge as his successor, just as he did when his own phenomenal sire Sunday Silence passed on: leading the likely lads are Kizuna, champion first-season sire in 2019, and the Triple Crown winner Contrail whose first weanlings are now on the ground.

Yet perhaps the genetic brilliance that came from the mating of Sunday Silence and Wind In Her Hair, will not be passed on through a son of the legendary Deep Impact, but through the lesser brother Black Tide and his hugely exciting son Kitasan Black.

It is worth noting that Kitasan Black’s foals numbered 84 and 82 in his first two crops, compared with Deep Impact’s 152 and 161, and Duramente’s 191 and 203.

Kitasan Black may never be ‘the next Deep Impact,’ but what he has achieved already in siring quality sons like the gleaming champion Equinox and the Classic winner Sol Oriens, Skia’s boy, with all of his raw, thrice-raced potential, shows that he is a stallion well-capable of passing on his own prodigious athletic traits. 

A whole lot of water needs to pass under the bridge, but who is to say that a dozen or so years from now people won’t be wondering where the next Kitasan Black will come from.




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