Following the death of Deep Impact, the Japanese industry has been dealt another blow with the passing of King Kamehameha at the age of 18.
For the past decade, the pair have reigned as the linchpins of the Shadai Stallion Station roster.
Although King Kamehameha, who was officially pensioned from stud duty earlier this year, never came to possess the international pull of Deep Impact, he was nevertheless an exceptional stallion in his own right, successful enough to be crowned the champion stallion of Japan in 2010 and 2011. He was also runner-up to Deep Impact on seven occasions; without that rival and studmate, we would be celebrating a nine-time champion Japanese sire.
Bred by Northern Farm, King Kamehameha was campaigned by Makoto Kaneko to win seven of eight starts including the 2004 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) at the expense of Heart’s Cry and the NHK Mile Cup. He was retired at the end of his three-year-old season and was an immediate hit with breeders, covering 244 mares in his first season.
Their belief was well placed. King Kamehameha fired in 26 first-crop juvenile winners, enough to make him the champion first-crop and two-year-old sire of 2008. His second crop, meanwhile, contained champion Apapane, Japan Cup winner Rose Kingdom and Queen Elizabeth II Cup hero Rulership, now also a valued member of the Shadai roster.
However, even better was to come out of his third crop in Lord Kanaloa, a blisteringly fast horse for trainer Takayuki Yasuda who was crowned Japan’s 2013 Horse of the Year. In all, he captured six Group 1 races including back-to-back renewals of the Hong Kong Sprint.
One of King Kamehameha’s greatest assets was his remarkable versatility. In addition to Lord Kanaloa, his stud record is peppered with Japanese Derby winners (Duramente and Rey De Oro), top dirt performers (Hokko Tarumae and Belshazzar were both Group 1 winners on dirt), a Group 1-winning two-year-old in Leontes and Classic-winning milers Duramente and Let’s Go Donki.
To date, he is the sire of 78 stakes winners, 12 of them at Group 1 level, making him one of the most successful sons of Kingmambo to stand at stud.
Much of King Kamehameha’s importance to the Japanese industry also stems from his ability to cross effectively with Sunday Silence-line mares. For instance, Belshazzar, Duramente and Rey De Oro are just three of the six Group 1 winners bred on the cross, and now we are seeing more of the same in reverse through the likes of 2018 Japanese Derby winner Wagnerian, by Deep Impact and out of the King Kamehameha mare Miss Encore, and recent Yasuda Kinen scorer Indy Champ, by Stay Gold and out of another daughter in Will Power.
It would seem, however, that King Kamehameha’s legacy will be at its most powerful through his sons, notably Shadai’s Lord Kanaloa and Rulership. Others, such as Leontes and Lovely Day, are waiting in the wings while Rey De Oro remains in training.
Lord Kanaloa is already sire of three Group 1 winners led by that terrific filly Almond Eye, whose haul of top-flight victories include the Japan Cup and Dubai Turf. She hails from the first crop of her sire, whose second includes this year’s Japanese 2,000 Guineas winner Saturnalia.
Appropriately, Lord Kanaloa was represented by his first European winner only on Friday when Qatar Racing’s Know It All struck in the EBF Fillies race at the Curragh. She is one of three two-year-olds officially registered in training in Europe by the sire, who stood the past season for 15,000,000yen (£120,000).
As for Rulership, his first crop includes Group 1 winner Kiseki, while anticipation runs high for the prospects of fellow Shadai resident Duramente, whose first crop are yearlings. Advertised at a fee of 6,000,000yen (£47,000), he was recently responsible for three yearlings who sold for the equivalent of a million dollars or more at the JRHA Select Sale.