It may not just be the USA which has a Triple Crown winner to celebrate this year. Japanese colt Duramente is two thirds of the way to emulating American Pharoah with two legs of his country’s series of classic races already won, following up his win in the equivalent of the 2000 Guineas, the Satsuki Sho, with victory in last month’s Tokyo Yushun, the Japanese Derby. Duramente is the fourth generation of his family to succeed at the top level as his dam, grandam and great grandam were all champion fillies in Japan. But the founder of this classic dynasty in the Far East was a British filly who was the daughter of an Epsom Derby winner…
Peroxide was no champion herself but she did win five races in Britain for trainer Sam Armstrong and was a useful filly with a Timeform rating of 106 as a three-year-old. She won twice over five furlongs as a two-year-old and gained her three wins at three over a mile/nine furlongs, two handicaps at Newmarket and the Fern Hill Stakes at Ascot. She was a granddaughter of the 1944 Cheveley Park Stakes winner Sweet Cygnet, while her sire – who inspired her name (!) – was the 1954 Derby winner Never Say Die.
At stud Peroxide initially bred a couple of foals in the States, one of whom was a winner, but it was to be in Japan, where she ended up at the end of the 1960’s, that she founded her dynasty. None of her own foals were of real note on the track but her daughter Shadai Feather (by the French import Guersant) became the dam of Dyna Carle, the best filly of her generation. Named champion filly in Japan at two and three, when she won the 1983 Japanese Oaks (Yushun Himba), Dyna Carle was by Northern Taste, Zenya Yoshida’s multiple champion sire in Japan after a French-based racing career which brought him success in the Prix de la Foret.
Dyna Carle’s daughter Air Groove (by the Italian-trained Arc winner Tony Bin) also won the Yushun Himba, in 1996, but it was as a four-year-old that she was named not just champion older filly in Japan but also Horse of the Year. That followed her excellent end to the year during which she won the Tenno Sho (Autumn), finished second in the Japan Cup (beaten a neck by British horse Pilsudski) and third in the Arima Kinen. Air Groove finished second in the Japan Cup again as a five-year-old behind El Condor Pasa.
Air Groove’s son Rulership was also placed in a Japan Cup (third in 2012), though gained his biggest win overseas in Hong Kong in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup. He’s of interest here as he’s by the same sire as Duramente, King Kamehameha, the 2004 Tokyo Yushun winner who held the record for the fastest Japanese Derby until Duramente lowered it. Air Groove, incidentally, was doubly represented by grandsons in the latest Tokyo Yushun; in addition to Duramente there was also Porte d’Auteuil who finished twelfth; he’s out of Air Groove’s daughter Portofino.
As well as a good colt in Rulership, Air Groove also produced a Group 1-winning filly in Admire Groove who was by Sunday Silence, the sire who succeeded and then eclipsed Northern Taste as Japan’s outstanding sire. Regally bred, she set a Japanese record for a filly foal when sold at the JRA Select Sale. Like her dam, Admire Groove was named champion older filly, though at three she had failed in her bid to make it three consecutive generations of Oaks winners for her family when only seventh in the Yushun Himba. However, later in the season she beat the Oaks winner Still In Love by a nose in the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup at Kyoto and won the same race again at four before finishing third as a five-year-old.
Duramente is Admire Groove’s fifth and final foal, and her third by King Kamehameha. His full sister Admire Sceptre had plenty of ability too, but over shorter trips, and among her placings at group level was a third in the Group 2 Swan Stakes over seven furlongs at Kyoto. Duramente’s brother Beau Geste is a winner on dirt over an extended mile. Admire Groove’s other two winners were by Kurofune and Symboli Kris S.
Sadly, Katsuya Yoshida’s Northern Farm had the misfortune to lose the key mares in this dynasty within months of each other. Admire Groove died as the result of a fall aged just twelve in October 2012 having produced Duramente earlier that year, while the following April her dam Air Groove died after foaling a full brother to Rulership.
[Image of Duramente winning the 82nd Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) courtesy of Wushi]