Sunday Silence (KY)

Horse of the Year in 1989 when he won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Breeders’ Cup Classic — defeating rival Easy Goer each time — Sunday Silence finished first or second in all 14 of his career starts.

Sunday Silence (Patrick Valenzuela up) winning the 1989 Kentucky Derby (Churchill Downs Inc./Kinetic Corp. /Museum Collection)







Wishing Well




Oak Cliff Thoroughbreds, Ltd.


H-G-W Partners


Charles E. Whittingham





Racing Record



Year Starts First Second Third Earnings
Year Sts 1 2 3 $
1988 3 1 2 0 $21700 $21,700
1989 9 7 2 0 $4578454 $4,578,454
1990 2 1 1 0 $368400 $368,400


Horse of the Year in 1989 when he won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Breeders’ Cup Classic — defeating rival Easy Goer each time — Sunday Silence finished first or second in all 14 of his career starts.

Bred in Kentucky by Oak Cliff Thoroughbreds, Sunday Silence didn’t seem destined for greatness, as his conformation was less than ideal. Trainer Gary Jones once said Sunday Silence’s hind legs “were so crooked they looked like coat hangers.” Bill Christine, a sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times, described the same legs as being “shaped like parentheses.”

Arthur B. Hancock III tried to unload the unsightly youngster at the Keeneland yearling sale in 1987 only to buy him back for a mere $17,000. He later shipped him to Hollywood Park to make him available at an auction for unraced 2-year-olds. The presale reserve was set at $50,000; the bidding never came close. Hancock retained him for $32,000. He took on partners and the decision was made to ship Sunday Silence back to Kentucky. He never made it. The driver suffered a fatal heart attack in Texas and the van overturned. The horse somehow emerged unscathed and was returned to California to begin his career there with Hall of Fame trainer Charlie Whittingham. Sunday Silence was starting to earn a reputation as somewhat of a miracle horse even though he had yet to race. Prior to the van accident, he had survived a freak virus as a weanling that almost killed him.

Sunday Silence started only three times as a juvenile, winning once and finishing second in the others. After winning an allowance in his 3-year-old debut, Sunday Silence broke through on the California stage with victories in the Grade 2 San Felipe Handicap and Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, defeating Flying Continental both times.

Sunday Silence began his rivalry with Easy Goer, the 1988 Eclipse Award winner for Champion 2-Year-Old Male, in the Kentucky Derby. The muddy track produced the slowest Derby time since 1958, as Sunday Silence defeated Easy Goer by 2¼ lengths in 2:05. In the Preakness, Sunday Silence and Easy Goer battled fiercely in the stretch with the Derby winner prevailing by a nose in one of the most memorable races of the century.

Easy Goer got his payback in the Belmont, denying Sunday Silence the Triple Crown with an eight-length victory. Easy Goer covered the 1½-mile distance in 2:26; only Secretariat ran the Belmont faster. Following the Belmont, Sunday Silence returned to California and finished second to Prized in the Swaps Stakes.

Sunday Silence won the Grade 1 Super Derby in September as a prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Gulfstream Park. Meeting Easy Goer for the fourth time, Sunday Silence fought for a gritty victory by a neck over his great rival. The victory assured Sunday Silence the Eclipse Awards for Horse of the Year and Champion 3-Year-Old Male. His earnings of $4,578,454 set a new single-season record.

Returning to the races in June of 1990, Sunday Silence won the Grade 1 Californian Stakes before finishing second to Criminal Type in the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup. A leg injury led to his retirement with a record of 9-5-0 from 14 starts and earnings of $4,968,554.

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 percent interest in Sunday Silence early in his 4-year-old season and later bought out the other partners for an undisclosed amount. Sunday Silence died on Aug. 19, 2002, at the age of 16. He was Japan's leading sire with his first 3-year-olds in 1995 and did not relinquish the title until 2008, six years after his death.


Eclipse Award Horse of the Year — 1989
Eclipse Award Champion 3-Year-Old Male — 1989

Triple Crown Highlights

Won the Kentucky Derby — 1989
Won the Preakness Stakes — 1989

Breeders' Cup Highlights

Won the Classic — 1989


Won the San Felipe Handicap — 1989
Won the Santa Anita Derby — 1989
Won the Super Derby — 1989
Won the Californian Stakes — 1990

Horse Profile for Sunday Silence | Equibase is Your Official Source for Thoroughbred Racing Information



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