Meet the Real-World Inspirations of ‘Uma Musume: Pretty Derby’

Uma Musume: Pretty Derby has been drawing buzz for P.A. Works’ animation style, cute character interactions, and a surprising attention to horseracing lore.

Uma Musume

All of the horse girls are based on real Thoroughbred racehorses, and P.A. Works’ has teased that real-world rivalries and references will pepper the story. Here is a quick introduction to some of the anime’s biggest names, but keep in mind that some unintentional spoilers may follow if P.A. Works sticks to history.


1Special Week

In the anime: Special Week is the genki protagonist of Uma Musume: Pretty Derby. Her fighting spirit, effort, and fast learning ability make Special Week a unique prospect as she attempts to become Japan’s top horse girl.

In real life: Special Week is one of Japan’s most successful Thoroughbred racehorse earned an unbelievable 1.09 billion yen ($10.23 million) in winnings. Some of Special Weeks notable victories include the 1998 Tokyo Yushun, 1999 Hanshin Daishoten, the spring and autumn Tenno Sho, and the Japan Cup. He retired following the 1999 season and currently lives Lex Stud as a sire.


2Silence Suzuka

In the anime: Silence Suzuka is cool, calm, and collected with hardly a thought outside of running. Despite her demeanor and tactics, Silence Suzuka is known to be afraid before a race’s start.

In real life: Silence Suzuka is one of the most tragic “what ifs” in horseracing. His short two-year career led to an impressive 9 victories in 15 races. Sadly, Silence Suzuka had to be put-down after suffering an injury at the 1998 Tenno Sho.


3Tokai Teio

In the anime: Tokai Teio is Special Week’s enthusiastic classmate. She lightfooted, which gives her unparalleled speed on the track. Tokai Teio’s ultimate goal is to win the Japanese Triple Crown and to be recognized by Symboli Rudolf.

In real life: Tokai Teio was a highly accomplished racehorse, winning 9 of 12 races. Some of the hall-of-famer’s notable victories include the 1991 Satsuki Sho, 1991 Tokyo Shun, 1991 Osaka Hai, 1992, Japan Cup, and 1993 Arima Kinen.



In the anime: Vodka is a rebellious horse girl who wishes to be viewed in a mature light. Her mischievous actions and haughty words hide Vodka’s pure-hearted personality.

In real life: Vodka is one of the most accomplished race mares in Japanese history. She earned a total of 793.58 million yen ($13.15 million), which is makes her the richest mare in Thoroughbred history. Vodka tied the record for most G-1 victories in Japan, with notable victories including the 2007 Tokyo Yushun and the 2009 Japan Cup. In 2011, Vodka was inducted into the Japan Racing Association Hall of Fame.


5El Condor Pasa

In the anime: El Condor Pasa is energetic and has enjoyed racing success in America and Europe. Now, she’s set her eyes towards becoming Japan’s top horse girl to increase her global fame.

In real life: El Condor Pasa had a well-traveled life and enjoyed international success thanks to high profile victories in Japan and France. His short career included victories at the 1998 Japan and the 1999 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. He was retired to become a breeding stallion but tragically died in 2002 following complications from colic surgery.


6Gold Ship

In the anime: Gold Ship is known a “super horse girl.” She’s blessed with divine beauty and top-notch skills, but Gold Ship’s unpredictable temperament leads to constant slacking off and sudden pranks.

In real life: The anime adopted Gold Ship’s unpredictable temperament, which mentally broke different jockeys. Gold Ship’s career was filled with breathtaking victories at the 2012 Arima Kinen, 2013 and 2014 Hanshin Daishoten, and the 2015 Tenno Sho. However, Gold Ship also suffered embarrassing loses at smaller scale races.


7Grass Wonder

In the anime: Grass Wonder is an even-keeled horse girl who cares about her classmate’s happiness, and she’s especially good friends with Special Week.

In real life: Grass Wonder had a talented career, but his career was mired by injuries. After a promising first season, Grass Wonder had to sit out a year due to a leg injury, but he would bounce back to win two Arima Kinen races.


8Mejiro McQueen

In the anime: Mejiro McQueen hails from the prestigious Mejiro family and her elegance draws envy from her classmates. She is a great long-distance runner and has won the Emperor Award.

In real life: Mejiro McQueen was a late-bloomer and didn’t become a top-class winner until turning three-years-old. However, he would become a true force at the track, winning twice at the Tenno Sho, Kyoto Daishoten, and Hanshin Daishoten. In total, Mejiro McQueen would earn 1.01 billion yen ($9.49 million) during his career.


9Symboli Rudolf

In the anime: Symboli Rudolf is the school’s calm and strict student council president. She radiates an intense aura, but she’s is protective of her classmates.

In real life: Symboli Rudolf is one of Japan’s most revered racehorses and became the nation’s first undefeated triple crown champion. He won 13 of 16 races and was inducted into the hall of fame in 1987.


This is just a quick sampling of the cast that has been introduced so far. Which horse girls are you excited to see in action?

Majored in Music @Duke, but realized that being a Jazz singer wasn't a real job. Now I spend my days watching anime and writing about the music industry. Glad to be in the new round of GB hires. Look forward to my coverage.
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