Harry Sweeney has his hand up a horse’s backside. The mare looks put out by this intrusion. Her eyes dart about nervously and she shifts her weight before accepting five thick human digits probing her insides. After feeling the uterus and the swelling of the ovaries, Sweeney’s arm, slick with mucus and excrement, reemerges. He doesn’t even need to look at the monitor. “She’s pregnant,” he confirms, smiling.

As well he might. Foals bred on Sweeney’s Hokkaido farm, Paca Paca (the onomatopoeic sound of a trotting horse), have sold for more than $1 million (¥102 million). In 2012, Deep Brillante, born on this farm, won the Japanese Derby, the country’s most prestigious race. Sweeney later sold her sister for $1.79 million. The clump of cells inside the belly of this timorous mare could one day be worth a pile of cash.

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