Sound, versatile, and tough are three words that describe Yoshida better than most. In just four years of racing, Yoshida won Grade 1 races on both turf and dirt and did more traveling than most people do.
This is his story.
Early Life & Pedigree (2014 - 2015): In the late 80s, a black Thoroughbred named Sunday Silence captured the hearts of millions of Americans with a story filled with both tragedy and triumph. The horse escaped death twice as a youngster, having survived both a virus and a car crash that flipped his trailer over. He would go on to win the 1989 Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Breeders’ Cup Classic in exhilarating fashion.
Prominent Japanese breeder Zenya Yoshida purchased 25% of Sunday Silence when he was a four-year old. One year later, he bought out the rest of the horse’s partners for $7.5 million and took him to Shadai Stallion Station in Japan to begin a stud career.
Sunday Silence quickly became the country’s most important stallion, leading the sire’s list from 1995 until 2008. Sunday Silence’s Grade 1 winning son Heart’s Cry retired in 2006, the same year that Sunday Silence passed away. Heart’s Cry too became a leading stallion. In 2013, Katsumi Yoshida’s Northern Farm bred Grade 1 winning mare Hilda’s Passion (Canadian Frontier) to Heart’s Cry. Hilda’s Passion foaled her Heart’s Cry colt on February 24, 2014. The colt’s beautiful pedigree attracted one of the United States’ leading Thoroughbred breeding and racing operations, WinStar Farm. They purchased the handsome son of Heart’s Cry for about $765,160 at a 2015 yearling and weanling sale in Japan. "Tom Ryan of SF Bloodstock and I went to Japan to look at some opportunities out there and we ended up working the sale a bit and buying five, of which Yoshida was the headliner,” President, CEO, and WinStar racing manager Elliot Walden said to BloodHorse. “One of the reasons we bought him was the idea of bringing some of that different bloodline back to America. China Horse Club (bought) in on the whole crop about six months later.”
They named him Yoshida after his breeder and brought him over to the United States to begin his early prep for a career on the racetrack. When the time came, Yoshida ventured to the barn of trainer Bill Mott. Debut & Three-Year Old Season (2016 - 2017): Yoshida made his debut on November 19, 2016 at Aqueduct Racetrack in New York. He and jockey Jose Ortiz finished second. It was the only time that Yoshida would run as a two-year old.
The Heart’s Cry colt raced for the second time during Keeneland’s Spring Meet. Yoshida and Jose Ortiz were able to get a pacesetting position on the rail of the track’s turf course and held on gamely to win the race. So impressive was his victory that Thoroughbred Daily News named him a TDN Rising Star.
Yoshida’s connections decided to try him in stakes company for his third race, shipping him back to the East Coast for the James W. Murphy Stakes at Pimlico. This time with Joel Rosario in the irons, Yoshida trailed the field in last but picked off horses from the rail. Rosario made a bold move in the stretch, pushing Yoshida through horses and urging him for everything he had. It worked - Yoshida became a stakes winner in his first asking.
The colt remained on the East Coast for rest of 2017, first finishing fifth in the Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) after tiring late in the stretch. He then shipped to Saratoga and dropped back down in class for the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes (G2), where he was narrowly beaten by Bricks and Mortar. He finished second again in the Saranac Stakes (G3), closing late as he did in the James W. Murphy Stakes to just miss the wire by a head to Voodoo Song and beat Bricks and Mortar.
Yoshida finally returned to the winner’s circle in the Hill Prince Stakes (G3) back at Belmont Park, splitting horses to win by a straining neck. It was a thrilling way to end his three-year old campaign.
[Video: Watch Yoshida (#2) win the Hill Prince in exciting fashion]
Versatility Proven in Four-Year Old Season (2018): Yoshida took a long freshening before returning to the races in May, six months after his victory in the Hill Prince. He entered the Old Forester Turf Classic, his first attempt in Grade 1 company since finishing fifth in the Belmont Derby the previous July. With Jose Ortiz back in the irons, Yoshida sat back in fourth while Shining Copper set the pace. At the top of the stretch, Yoshida lined up with heavy favorite Beach Patrol and the two horses went down the stretch side by side. The horses battled viciously until Yoshida was able to pull away by about ¾ of a length to win his first Grade 1 race. The victory automatically boosted the colt’s value as a stallion prospect for WinStar Farm, who were hoping to offer him as a good alternative to breeders who wanted the Sunday Silence/Halo line.
[Video: Watch Yoshida (#9) win his first Grade 1 race]
One month later, Yoshida shipped to Ascot in England for the Queen Anne Stakes (G1). He would finish fifth, but was only beaten by one length. It was also the colt’s first time running without Lasix, a controversial medication in horse racing. His ability to run well without the medication when some horses cannot increased his value even more.
Yoshida returned to the United States to run in FourStarDave Handicap (G1) at Saratoga, where he finished fifth in just a six horse field. For some reason, the colt just didn’t run in the stretch like he had before.
After the FourStarDave, Mott and owners decided that Yoshida had potential to win on dirt. Though he had never raced on the surface before, his pedigree and workouts suggested that he was certainly capable of becoming a dual-surface winner. The decision was made to run Yoshida in the Woodward Stakes (G1) at Saratoga. There wasn't many people who thought that Yoshida would have the ability to beat established dirt horses like Gunnevera and Seeking The Soul, but the colt proved all doubters wrong. A wall of horses swept around Saratoga’s final turn side by side with Yoshida being one of the widest of them all. His distinctive blaze was hidden underneath a layer of dirt, the white WinStar silks browned as well. Yoshida and Joel Rosario rolled down the middle of the track, passing horses with incredible ease. They crossed the wire two lengths in front in an incredible moment for Bill Mott and the owners that believed in him. The colt’s connections decided to keep him on the dirt for that year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs. Yoshida made a late run down the middle of the track, but was unable to get to the wire first. He finished fourth, though wasn’t many lengths behind the winner Accelerate. Yoshida ended his four-year old campaign with Grade 1 victories on both surfaces, something that not many horses have been able to do. His connections could have retired him then, but they allowed the colt to run as a five-year old.
[Video: Watch Yoshida (#1) win the Woodward Stakes, making him a Grade 1 winner on both dirt and turf]
Five-Year Old Season (2019):
Yoshida went back to the turf for his five-year old debut in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park. He was favored to win over future Champion Bricks and Mortar, but lacked his usual closing kick and finished sixth. The colt’s connections decided to put him back on the dirt, this time all the way in Dubai for the Dubai World Cup (G1). He again finished sixth. He would face that result for the third time in a row back home in the Stephen Foster Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs. After his trio of sixth place finishes, Yoshida brought home a pair of good performances in the Whitney Stakes (G1) and Woodward Stakes (G1) in preparation for the Breeders’ Cup Classic; he closed late to finish second to McKinzie in the Whitney and finished a close third when trying to defend his title in the Woodward.
His close performances in the Whitney and Woodward unfortunately didn’t translate to a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic; Yoshida finished eighth. His connections knew that it was time to let Yoshida say goodbye to the racetrack and move on to a new career as a stallion. It was announced that he would be retiring to WinStar Farm. Yoshida To Carry On The Sunday Silence Legacy:
When Yoshida arrived home at WinStar Farm, he had a record of 18: 5-4-1 and earnings of more than $2.5 million. He had won Grade 1s on both Dirt and Turf, had competed at the sport’s highest level without lasix, won both on and off the pace, defeated some of the best horse’s in the country, and did it all while traveling around the world. On top of it all, Yoshida carries the incredibly impactful Sunday Silence/Halo bloodline and is out of a fast, Grade 1 winning dam. He truly has all the makings of a great stallion.
“He’s a really solid horse. Very, very correct, very sound limbed, has a lot of substance, very, very good mover,” WinStar Farm’s David Hanley told Thoroughbred Daily News. “But the thing about him is he’s got a steely tough mentality. Sunday Silence obviously was a tough character and I think that sire line have got that in them, that fight in them, that determination. And that’s magic.”
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