General sires ranking
In the 2019 general ranking in Japan, Deep Impact (by Sunday Silence (USA)), who produced 10 generations over his career, remained in the top spot throughout the year, becoming the champion sire in this category for the eighth consecutive year.
Roger Barows became fifth son of Deep Impact who won the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) (G1).
There were some other strong three-year-old performers which he sired, with colt World Premiere winning the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) (G1), and filly Gran Alegria triumphing in the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) (G1). In addition, two-year-old colt Contrail won the Hopeful Stakes (G1), raising further expectations for 2020.
Heart's Cry (by Sunday Silence (USA)) occupied the second place in the general sires ranking for the first time, displacing King Kamehameha (by Kingmambo (USA)), who had held the position for seven consecutive years. The sire has produced strong performers across all age categories, with five-year-old mare Lys Gracieux (who was awarded the title of Japanese Horse of the Year) winning the Arima Kinen (The Grand Prix) (G1), the Takarazuka Kinen (G1), and the Australian Cox Plate (G1), five-year-old son Suave Richard winning the Japan Cup (G1), and two-year-old colt Salios winning the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes (G1).
The third place was Lord Kanaloa (by King Kamehameha), a newcomer in the top three who has produced three generations so far. The four-year-old daughter Almond Eye won the Tenno Sho (Autumn) (G1) and Dubai Turf (G1) in UAE, and three-year-old colt Saturnalia won the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) (G1).
General two-year-old sires ranking
In the ranking for the two-year-old category, Deep Impact became the ninth champion, retaining the title for four consecutive years. In this category, his son Contrail won the Hopeful Stakes (G1) and received a title of the JRA Awards as the Best Two-Year-Old Colt, in recognition of exceptional performances (won all three races contested). Also his daughter Ria Amelia won the Artemis Stakes (G3).
The second place was Kizuna (by Deep Impact), who won the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) in 2013 and also features in the first crop sires ranking this year. His sons performed strong so that pushed him up for the first position of the ranking over his own sire's head until the end of September. His son Bien Fait won the Hakodate Nisai Stakes (G3), and Chimera Verite triumphed in the Hokkaido Nisai Yushun (Jpn3).
Heart's Cry, whose 2017 crop has been recognized as a "vintage crop," finished in close third. The crop includes so many quality horses such as Salios, who won all three races contested including the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes (G1), My Rhapsody, who similarly won all three races contested including the Radio Nikkei Hai Kyoto Nisai Stakes (G3), Woman's Heart, the winner of Niigata Nisai Stakes (G3), Wakea, who won the Ivy Stakes (L), and Cravache d'Or, who finished third in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (G1).
General first crop sires ranking
The top spot was held by Kizuna (by Deep Impact), who won the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) (G1) and French Prix Niel (G2) in 2013. The crop achieved numerous victories (34 victories by 27 runners) after their debut, with two runners triumphing in graded races. Among the colts, Bien Fait won the Hakodate Nisai Stakes (G3) and Chimera Verite triumphed in the Hokkaido Nisai Yushun (Jpn3). Among the fillies, Maltese Diosa notched two wins and finished second in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (G1), and Luce della Vita triumphed in the Cosmos Sho (OP).
The second place was Epiphaneia (by Symboli Kris S (USA)), who was foaled in the same year as Kizuna and won the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) in 2013. His first crop achieved the highest number of wins (37 wins by 34 runners). They secured no victories in graded races but they exhibited strong performance, with colt Roll of Thunder winning two out of three races contested and finishing third in the Radio Nikkei Hai Kyoto Nisai Stakes (G3), while colt Varuna finished third in the Keio Hai Nisai Stakes (G2).
The third place was occupied by Real Impact (by Deep Impact), who won the Australian George Ryder Stakes (G1) in 2015. He made the rankings on the strength of his colt Lauda Sion won two out of four races contested, including the Momiji Stakes (OP).
In fourth place was six-time G1 race winner Gold Ship (by Stay Gold), with the son Black Hole, the winner of the Sapporo Nisai Stakes (G3).
Sires newly introduced in 2020
In 2019, Japan lost two champion sires that had occupied the top spot and second place of the general sires ranking for seven consecutive years: Deep Impact and King Kamehameha. Although a new contingent of sires (including Lord Kanaloa, Just a Way, Kizuna, and Epiphaneia) performed well, the passing of the two celebrated champion sires has left a large void.
Against this backdrop, Japanese horse breeders have taken steps to introduce stallions from overseas with the aim of producing the next generation of champion sires. Below is a list of well-known horses that have been confirmed to serve as new sires in Japan in 2020.
・Bricks and Mortar (USA): Win record of five G1 races, including the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1)
(foaled in 2014; by Giant's Causeway (USA) Shadai Stallion Station
・New Year's Day (USA): Winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1)
(foaled in 2011; by Street Cry (IRE) Shadai Stallion Station
・Animal Kingdom (USA): Win record of two G1 races, including the Kentucky Derby (G1)
(foaled in 2008; by Leroidesanimaux (BRZ) JBBA Shizunai Stallion Station
・California Chrome: Win record of seven G1 races, including the Kentucky Derby (G1)
(foaled in 2011; by Lucky Pulpit (USA) Arrow Stud
・Thunder Snow (IRE): Win record of four G1 races, including two wins in the Dubai World Cup (G1)
(foaled in 2014; by Helmet (AUS) Darley Japan Stallion Complex
・Hawkbill (USA): Win record of two G1 races, including the Eclipse Stakes (G1)
(foaled in 2013; by Kitten's Joy (USA) Darley Japan Stallion Complex