Japan’s Kentucky Derby hopeful Mandarin Hero spins around Santa Anita in preparation for the Santa Anita Derby

April 1, 2023

Will Mandarin Hero by the horse to win the Kentucky Derby for Japan

Mandarin Hero takes a spin around Santa Anita. Ernie Belmonte, Past The Wire
Mandarin Hero takes a spin around Santa Anita. Ernie Belmonte, Past The Wire

Santa Anita Stable Notes by Victor Ryan

Photo @netkeiba Twitter

After arriving at Santa Anita on Friday, Japanese import Mandarin Hero got his first feel of the main track Saturday morning with a light gallop. Mandarin Hero is slated to be the first horse from Japan to run in the Grade I Runhappy Santa Anita Derby next Saturday.

At around 8 a.m., Mandarin Hero was backtracked to the six-furlong marker where he then turned and galloped once around the oval. Following the low-impact tour, members of Mandarin Hero’s traveling party indicated all was well.

“Everything seems to be good,” said Sean Toriumi of U.S. Equine, who helped transport the colt from Japan and is also serving as an interpreter.

Mandarin Hero is trained by Terunobu Fujita, who is scheduled to arrive at Santa Anita on Thursday. The Japanese-bred colt by 2012 champion 2-year-old colt Shanghai Bobby won all four starts last year and in his lone outing this year was a fast-closing second by a neck on Feb. 23. All five of his starts have been at Oi Racecourse outside of Tokyo, which is part of Japan’s National Association of Racing.

Mandarin Hero is scheduled to work on Monday. Aboard for the drill will be Santa Anita-based jockey Kazushi Kimura, a native of Japan who also has the call in the Santa Anita Derby.

The Santa Anita Derby is one of six stakes scheduled for next Saturday’s blockbuster card. Also to be run are the GII Santa Anita Oaks, GII Charles Whittingham, GII Monrovia and both the Echo Eddie and Evening Jewel for statebreds.

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