Japanese Horse To Come For Santa Anita Derby

Mandarin Hero (Jpn) (Shanghai Bobby), a winner of four of five career starts in Japan, will make his next start in the GI Santa Anita Derby Apr. 8 at Santa Anita.

Mandarin Hero races on the National Association of Racing (NAR) circuit, comprised of regional tracks predominantly offer dirt racing and widely considered to be a cut below the Japan Racing Association circuit. Mandarin Hero will be the first NAR horse to compete in the U.S., though Marche Lorraine (Jpn) (Orfevre {Jpn}) was a four-time black-type winner at NAR tracks before upsetting the 2021 GI Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Del Mar.

Mandarin Hero, one of 24 winners from the first Japanese crop of 2012 Eclipse Award-winning juvenile male Shanghai Bobby, was undefeated in four starts as a 2-year-old and won the Haiseiko Kinen (allowance) going a two-turn mile last November (see below, SC 9). He made his 3-year-old debut in an valuable 1800-meter [nine-furlong] test Feb. 23, finishing a close second. All of his races have come on the dirt at Ohi Racecourse outside of Tokyo, where he has earned the equivalent of $236,854.

“My goal of running in the Santa Anita Derby has come true, and I am determined to achieve good results,” said trainer Terunobu Fujita. “After a good run in the Santa Anita Derby, I hope to run in the Kentucky Derby. I have the experience of an overseas tour [in Korea] and I will do my best to do everything in my power.”

There are four races on the Japanese calendar win which points for the GI Kentucky Derby are awarded. Mandarin Hero has not run in any of them. Five Japanese horses are expected to take part in the G2 UAE Derby at Meydan Mar. 25, a race that offers Kentucky Derby points on a scale of 100-40-30-20-10 as does the Santa Anita Derby.


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