MANDARIN HERO (purple colors)
Due in large part to a 30-year relationship between Santa Anita Park and Japan’s Oi Racecourse, Japanese-bred Mandarin Hero, who has won four out of his five career starts in Japan, will arrive in Los Angeles on March 29 and is scheduled to run at Santa Anita on Saturday, April 8, in the Grade 1, $750,000 Runhappy Santa Anita Derby.
Mandarin Hero, sired by Shanghai Bobby, won all four of his starts as a juvenile and finished second in his 3-year-old debut. Each of the colt’s races has come on the dirt at Oi Racecourse on Japan’s regional NAR circuit.
“My goal of running in the Santa Anita Derby has come true, and I am determined to achieve good results,” trainer Terunobu Fujita told the Thoroughbred Daily News. “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.”
“We’re gratified to have this horse coming in for the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby,” said Pete Siberell, Santa Anita’s Director of Community Services and Special Projects. “I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Oi Racecourse a number of times and thanks to the folks at U.S. Equine, we have enjoyed a 30-year relationship as sister tracks.
“Both Oi Racecourse and Santa Anita have sent horses to compete in major races over the years which has enabled both Japanese and American citizens to bet on them. We see racing trending in an international direction and we share Oi’s desire to increase field size and promote wagering globally.”
The 86th running of the Santa Anita Derby, which has produced 20 winners of the Kentucky Derby, including 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify, will be broadcast live on over-the-air NBC.
“Any time we can attract horses from abroad, it generates additional interest in a race of this magnitude,” said Jason Egan, Santa Anita Director of Racing and Racing Secretary. “Given Japan’s recent successes in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships and in other top-level events around world, it is extremely exciting to have Mandarin Hero compete here in the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby.
“We hope this serves to open the door further to additional international runners at Santa Anita in the future.”
For additional information on the April 8 Runhappy Santa Anita Derby, including dining and seating reservations, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.