Sunday Silence

Sunday Silence

Thoroughbred racehorse infobox
horsename = Sunday Silence

caption = Derby Owners Club card with Sunday Silence image on it.
sire = Halo
grandsire = Hail To Reason
dam = Wishing Well
damsire = Understanding
sex = Stallion
foaled = 1986
country = USA flagicon|USA
colour = Black/Brown
breeder = Oak Cliff Thoroughbreds, Ltd.
owner = H-G-W Partners
Racing silks: Gray, yellow sash, sleeves and cap
trainer = Charlie Whittingham
record = 14: 9-5-0
earnings = $4,968,554
race = Santa Anita Derby (1989)
San Felipe Stakes (1989)
Kentucky Derby (1989)
Preakness Stakes (1989)
Super Derby (1989)
Breeders' Cup Classic (1989)
awards= U.S. Champion 3-Year-Old Colt (1989)
United States Horse of the Year (1989)
honours = United States Racing Hall of Fame (1996)
#31 - Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century
Leading sire in Japan 1995 through 2007
updated= January 12, 2008

Sunday Silence (1986-2002) was an American thoroughbred race horse. He was foaled in 1986 Sired by Halo out of Wishing Well. Though he was registered as a dark bay/brown, he was in fact a true black. In the Blood-Horse magazine List of the Top 100 Racehorses of the 20th Century, Sunday Silence is ranked #31.

Early years

Sunday Silence was bred by Oak Cliff Thoroughbreds, Ltd. Passed twice at the sales ring as a yearling, he was finally sold in California for $32,000 as a 2-year-old in training. Arthur B. Hancock III bought him as a "buy-back" (he had bred him), hoping to ship him to Kentucky. However, an accident kept Sunday Silence in California. Hall of Fame trainer Charlie Whittingham bought a half share of the colt and then sold half of that to Dr. Ernest Gaillard. (Ownersip designate: H-G-W Partners)

Sunday Silence is a unique horse in that out of 14 career races, he never finished worse than second. Nine of his races were Win (First), 5 were Place (Second).

Although he showed ability, he didn't make it to the races until late in his 2-year-old season, winning a maiden special weight and finishing second in an allowance from three starts. In his third year, he managed to get an allowance win. In the Race to the Roses, Sunday Silence won the San Felipe Stakes and the Santa Anita Derby to allow him to qualify for a slot at the Kentucky Derby.

1989 U.S. Triple Crown

In the build up to the 1989 Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, a rivalry developed between the west-coast Sunday Silence and Easy Goer, an east-coast thoroughbred with superior breeding. Easy Goer was also the media darling and favorite of the east-coast dominated sports media, who picked him ahead of Sunday Silence in each race of the Triple Crown. In the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of the Triple Crown, Sunday Silence and jockey Pat Valenzuela won by 2 1/2 lengths over Easy Goer, who was reluctant to run on the muddy track that day, according to his trainer Claude R. "Shug" McGaughey III. The media widely accepted the reasoning, and again picked 'Goer to win the Preakness Stakes. But Sunday Silence again prevailed, this time by a nose over Easy Goer. Some Easy Goer loyalists in the media maintained their horse's superiority, attributing the 'loss' to the shortness of the race, which at 1-3/16 miles neutralized Easy Goer's dominant closing speed. In the Belmont Stakes, the final and longest race of the Triple Crown at 1 -1/2 miles (and subsequently Easy Goer's home track), Easy Goer seemed to vindicate his reputation as the better horse by crushing Sunday Silence by eight lengths and denying him the elusive Triple.

Sunday Silence shook off the defeat and went on to win the Super Derby and finish second to eventual Breeders' Cup Turf winner Prized in the Swaps Stakes. This set up one final face-off with Easy Goer at the season-ending Breeders' Cup Classic at Gulfstream Park. The contest was dubbed the 'Race of the Decade' and many believed would decide the winner of the Eclipse Horse of the Year award. Sunday Silence's Jockey Pat Valenzuela had earlier been suspended for cocaine use and was replaced by veteran Chris McCarron. Once again Sunday Silence went off as second choice, and once again he prevailed. He passed Easy Goer at the top of the stretch and pulled ahead by as many as 4 lengths. Easy Goer made one last late surge, but to no avail. Sunday Silence won by a neck, and finally and begrudgingly the sports media recognized him as the better horse.

At this point, Sunday Silence had won seven times in nine starts, giving him the 3-year-old championship and the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year. In 1996 he was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

During his 4th Year, Sunday Silence managed to win the Californian and place second in the Hollywood Gold Cup. But he suffered an injured ligament which eventually led to his retirement.


After being ignored by most American breeders, Sunday Silence was eventually sold to Japanese breeder Zenya Yoshida to stand at his Shadai Stallion Station in Shiraoi, Hokkaido. Yoshida had acquired a 25% interest in Sunday Silence early in his 4-year-old season and bought out the other partners for an undisclosed amount.

Sunday Silence flourished in Japan and became their leading sire in the last decade of his life, topping their sire list from 1995 through 2007.


In August 2002, Sunday Silence finally lost his battle with laminitis, suffering a fatal heart attack. In May, infection in his right leg brought on laminitis in his left leg. His owners had been discussing whether to euthanize him or not for days. On the day of his death, he lay down in his stall, could not get back up, and eventually died of heart failure. He had been in a lot of pain which required strong pain killers to be administered.

A favorite horse of many, a lot of fans took his death hard. Sunday Silence was buried at Shadai Stallion Station. In time, his extended bloodline left a significant mark in racing history.

His Progeny Leave their Mark

Sunday Silence has managed to leave his mark on the racing world, as his descendants break earnings records, mainly in Asia. Conservative estimates on total winnings made by Sunday Silence descendents place the total near $500 Million.

Among some of his more notable heirs include:


* Agnes Flight (1997), is a winner of Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) (JPN Domestic G1) in 2000.
* Agnes Tachyon (1998), a full brother to Agnes Flight, is an undefeated winner of the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) (JPN Domestic G1).
* Dance in the Dark (1993), is a successful sire in Japan. Winner of the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) (JPN Domestic G1).
*Dance in the Mood (2001), a sister of Dance in the Dark, became the first Japanese racehorse of Sunday Silence descent to run in the American Oaks (US-G1), but lost to English Filly Ticker Tape by a length in 2004. Previously, she had won the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) (JPN Domestic G1), but lost in the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) (JPN Domestic G1).
*Deep Impact (M) (2002) Wins include the Japanese Triple Crown, the Japan Cup (JPN-G1) and the Arima Kinen (JPN Domestic G1).
* Heart's Cry (2001), is a winner of the Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-G1) and Arima Kinen (JPN Domestic G1:then). He is most renowned for being the only horse to ever beat Deep Impact in Japan.
* Manhattan Cafe (1998)
* Silence Suzuka (1994 - 1998), was famous for establishing the fascinating early pace. In 1998, He marked six consecutive victories including the Takarazuka Kinen (JPN Domestic G1:then). But he couldn't get the seventh victory, the Tenno Sho (JPN Domestic G1:then), for a sudden life-threatening injury didn't allow him to keep on running. He was put euthanasia. This accidental death is known as a tragic episode.
* Special Week (1995), a winner of the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) (JPN Domestic G1) in 1998, who retired in 1999 with a bankroll of $9,346,435.
* Stay Gold (1994), who earned $8,682,142, helped earn his sire some additional international acclaim when he won the Hong Kong Vase (HK-G1) at Sha Tin racecourse and the Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-G2:then) at Nad Sheba in 2001.
*Still in Love (2000) - Winner of the Japanese Fillies' Triple Crown.
* To the Victory (1996), a $5,303,281-earning mare that finished second in the 2001 Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1).
* Zenno Rob Roy (2000), whose three Domestic G1 wins included a score in the Japan Cup, was named Horse of the Year for 2004 and champion older male by the Japan Racing Association. Zenno Rob Roy closed out the year with earnings of $8,994,210 from two years of racing.

"Other descendants"

* Cesario (2002), a daughter of Special Week, who managed to win the 2005 Yushun Himba yet losing the Oka Sho due to her rider racing another horse (and at that point giving her a 4 win/5 start record), managed to avenge Dance in the Mood's loss in 2004 by winning the American Oaks (US G1) in a stunning July 2005 upset against favorite Melhor Alinda. Her win was the first US stakes race won by a Japanese bred horse since the 1950s.
* Delta Blues (2001), a son of Dance in the Dark, is a winner of the 2006 Melbourne Cup.

unday Silence in Pop Culture

In the Horse Racing game Derby Owners Club, Sunday Silence is one of the Sires you can pick to breed in the game. He also has his face on one of the official DOC cards (The Blue-Green bordered card), and his name is used in the instruction plates on the machine. Some enthusiasts in Japan often breed with Sunday Silence, even though Thunder Boy is the top Sire in the game to breed.


* [ Sunday Silence pedigree]
* [ The Derby of Sunday Silence]
* [ Preakness winners]
* [ Sunday Silence story and photographs]

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