Katsumi Yoshida’s Northern Farm has been Japan’s most successful breeding operation every year since 2011. 2017, though, was their most successful year to date, with earnings of more than 14 billion yen (more than £92 million or $123 million) from nearly 600 domestic wins. The stud broke another record during the year, with its graduates winning eleven of the 24 JRA Group 1 contests, among them the Tokyo Yushun (Derby) and the Japan Cup.
Northern Farm was created in 1994 following the death the year before of Zenya Yoshida, with his three sons Katsumi, Teruya and Haruya each establishing their own separate breeding operations when their father’s Shadai Farm was split up (Teruya’s stud retains that name). The three brothers also jointly own Shadai Stallion Station, home to, among others, Deep Impact, the son and heir of Sunday Silence who transformed the fortunes of the Yoshida family, and Japanese breeding and racing in general, when Zenya Yoshida purchased the 1989 US Horse of the Year who was to become champion sire in Japan thirteen years in a row. Japanese triple crown winner and Japan Cup winner Deep Impact was himself a product of Northern Farm, though was bought back for his stallion career having been sold as a yearling.
Deep Impact is the sire of two of Northern Farm’s Japanese Group 1 winners in 2017. Al Ain won the Satsuki Sho (Japan’s 2000 Guineas, though run over ten furlongs) at Nakayama in April, while six-year-old Satono Aladdin took the Yasuda Kinen for older milers at Tokyo in June. Both are good examples of the policy of importing foreign mares who performed at a high level into Japan as much-needed outcrosses for the Sunday Silence sire line. It may be a necessity, but it’s also a strategy that has proved hugely successful where Deep Impact is concerned.
Al Ain is out of the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner Dubai Majesty who was bought days after her Breeders’ Cup win for $1.1 million at Keeneland. Dubai Majesty is a daughter of the Pulpit stallion Essence of Dubai. Satono Aladdin’s dam Magic Storm gained her biggest win in the Grade 2 Monmouth Oaks. Bought for $500,000 in foal to Maria’s Mon, the daughter of Storm Cat had already produced a Group 1 winner for Northern Farm in Lachesis, a sister to Satono Aladdin who won the 2014 Queen Elizabeth II Cup, Japan’s big race of the autumn for fillies and mares.
Deep Impact was himself the son of an imported mare, the Epsom Oaks runner-up Wind In Her Hair who was by Alzao from the family of Nashwan, Unfuwain and Nayef. While Northern Farm cannot lay claim to Japan’s record prize money earner Kitasan Black (almost certain to be Horse of the Year for the second year running in 2017 and retired after winning the Arima Kinen in December), they did breed his sire Black Tide, another son of Wind In Her Hair and a full brother to Deep Impact. Wind In Her Hair is also the great grandam of another of Northern Farm’s Group 1 winners in 2017, the Japanese Derby winner Rey de Oro, who went on to finish second in the Japan Cup.
The Japan Cup winner Cheval Grand is by Heart’s Cry, another son of Sunday Silence, and the only horse to beat (the year younger) Deep Impact on Japanese soil when winning the 2005 Arima Kinen. Heart’s Cry was a product of Teruya Yoshida’s Shadai Farm, but two of Northern Farm’s Group 1 winners of 2017 belong to the same family. Both the NHK Mile Cup winner Aerolithe and the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies winner Lucky Lilac are great granddaughters of the multiple US Grade 1 winner Stella Madrid, a daughter of the champion US sprinter My Juliet who was a half-sister to Heart’s Cry’s grandam Buper Dance*. While they share a common ancestry, Heart’s Cry, Aerolithe and Lucky Lilac result from separate American purchases by the Yoshidas; Lucky Lilac is out of the Ashland Stakes winner Lilacs And Lace and comes from the first crop of the Japanese triple crown winner and dual Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe runner-up Orfevre.
Orfevre’s sire Stay Gold, another son of Sunday Silence, was responsible for the Northern Farm-bred Victoria Mile winner Admire Lead, while Gold Dream, who won both JRA Group 1 races on dirt in 2017 in Katsumi Yoshida’s own colours, the February Stakes and Champions Cup, is by one of Sunday Silence’s best performers on dirt, Gold Allure.
Northern Farm’s two other domestic Group 1 winners during the year were Deirdre in the Shuka Sho (the success of her sire Harbinger in Japan this autumn was covered here) and Satono Crown in the Takarazuka Kinen. By Marju, Satono Crown has a distinctly un-Japanese pedigree as his dam Jioconda (by Rossini) was carrying him when she was bought privately in the autumn of 2011 just after her two-year-old that year, Lightening Pearl (also by Marju), won the Cheveley Park Stakes.
Northern Farm’s year of Group 1 successes was by no means confined to Japan. Elswhere, Cheval Grand’s close relative Vivlos, by Deep Impact, won the Dubai Turf while Neorealism (by yet another son of Sunday Silence, the Japanese Guineas/Derby winner Neo Universe) landed the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Hong Kong. In Australia, the exported six-year-old Tosen Stardom became a dual Group 1 winner for Deep Impact in the Toorak Handicap and Emirates Stakes. Northern Farm’s reach extended to Europe too, with Deep Impact’s son Saxon Warrior winning the Racing Post Trophy for Aidan O’Brien (who trained his dam the Moyglare Stud Stakes winner Maybe) and raising the intriguing prospect of a Japanese-bred winner of a British classic in 2018.
Another graduate from Northern Farm made his mark in graded company in the USA as the wheel, which had begun with Sunday Silence’s export to Japan, turned full circle. A yearling son of Heart’s Cry, out of the imported US mare Hilda’s Passion (Ballerina Stakes winner), was bought for ¥94m ($765,160) at the JRHA Select Sale in 2015 by John McCormack Bloodstock**. Bought on behalf of WinStar Farm, the colt went into training with Bill Mott and won the Grade 3 Hill Prince Stakes at Belmont in October. His name? Yoshida.
*Buper Dance’s brother Lyphard’s Special sired the grandam of Northern Farm’s dual Japan Cup winner Gentildonna
**McCormack has purchased many mares for export to Northern Farm over the years, among them Deep Impact’s dam Wind In Her Hair. 2015 marked the first time foreign buyers had been active at the Select Sale which is held at Northern Farm. WinStar’s purchases of colts by Empire Maker at the same sale were covered here.
Images by Ogiyoshisan – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php