2023 News

April 10, 2023


Santa Anita Derby - Mandarin Hero just misses out on Santa Anita shocker
Mandarin Hero
Mandarin Hero

Mandarin Hero was almost the hero of the Santa Anita Derby as the 3-year-old colt trained by Terunobu Fujita came within a nose of winning the 1,800-meter showdown at Santa Anita Park on Saturday (8 April).

Mandarin Hero - the first horse from the National Association of Racing (NAR: Racing by Local Governments) to run in an American Grade 1 race - nearly orchestrated a stunning upset in one of the most prestigious races in the United States, barely losing out to winner Practical Move.

Under Canadian-based jockey Kazushi Kimura, Mandarin Hero traveled mid-pack among the eight runners before turning for home to stay neck and neck with Practical Move, who just held off the Japanese challenger for victory. Another 100 meters and it looked like Mandarin Hero could have come out ahead.

Should Mandarin Hero qualify for the May 6 Kentucky Derby, he will enter the Run for the Roses. He is currently 24th in the rankings for the 20 slots available in the Kentucky Derby.

Said Fujita, “The horses in America are quick out of the gate and I didn’t think it would be easy to keep up. We had to go for it on the straight.
“He stops fighting if you don’t keep him in the race throughout so that’s what I told the jockey to do. He stuck to the plan and was incredible down the stretch. I was hoping he’d find space on the inside at some point and Kimura did exactly that. I was so excited when we hit the final straight I don’t remember a thing. I would’ve been happy with a top-five finish but when I saw that he was among the front two I was ecstatic.
“The owner said we should go for the Kentucky so that’s what we’re aiming for.”

Added Kimura, “When we went over the line I thought we were second but the other jockey said to me, ‘Congratulations’ so I thought we may have won. But then I looked at the board and saw that we lost. At the Derby, I really want first place.
“The horse has no problems settling. If he can position himself behind the favorites, I think we can give them a run for their money. We don’t want to just take part. We want to be competitive and hopefully we can win.”

Official Result (PDF: Equibase)

Please refer to the following website for further details.
Santa Anita Racecourse

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