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What’s been happening in the racing world | Topics: Damian Lane, Seven Days in Racing, Kentucky Derby, UAE Derby, Aidan O’Brien, Santa Anita Derby, Javier Castellano, Oisin Murphy, Flemington, Sodashi | Thoroughbred Racing Commentary


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Mandarin Hero: Japanese dirt star heading to Santa Anita en route to Kentucky Derby. Photo: Netkeiba

Japanese star Mandarin Hero, Javier Castellano and Sodashi feature in our weekly digest of recent international racing news

Japanese star heads to Santa Anita for Kentucky Derby points

USA: Mandarin Hero, who has won four of his five starts on Japan’s second-tier NAR (National Association of Racing) circuit, is to break new ground by having his next start in the Santa Anita Derby on April 8.

Trainer Terunobu Fujita’s goal is to secure enough points for the son of Shanghai Bobby to qualify for the Kentucky Derby; he has not contested any of the four races in Japan which offer Derby points.

“Any time we can attract horses from abroad, it generates additional interest in a race of this magnitude,” said Santa Anita director of racing Jason Egan. “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.”

The Aidan O’Brien-trained Cairo, a son of Quality Road, is headed to the UAE Derby after securing 20 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby with victory in the Listed Patton Stakes at Dundalk.

Javier Castellano wins George Woolf Award

USA: Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano has won the 2023 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award after topping a nationwide vote of his fellow riders.

The Venezuelan native Castellano, 45, will be honored in a ceremony at Santa Anita this spring for the coveted award which recognizes triders whose careers and personal character garner esteem for the individual and the sport of horse racing,

“I am proud to have been honored and selected to win this incredible award,” said Castellano. “It is one that is obviously prestigious, but to be voted by my fellow riders truly makes this so special. I admire my fellow nominees as well as the other incredible riders that have won this award in years past.

“The significance of this award definitely does not go unnoticed. I have so many people to thank and I look forward to having my family with me to accept this award at Santa Anita.”

Fund launched for jockey Canchari after sudden death

USA: The family of jockey Alex Canchari has launched a memorial fund for his children after the rider took his own life at the age of 29 on March 3.

Canchari, who was based at Canterbury Park in Minnesota and rode over 1,000 winners, had two young children and his fiancée Brooke-Lyn was expecting a third child due in August.

The Canchari family have sent the jockey’s brain to experts at Boston University to establish whether her was suffering from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, which is caused by repeated blows to the head, according to Thoroughbred Daily News.

Leading Czech stallion Zazou stolen from Putin ally’s stud

Czech Republic: Leading Czech stallion Zazou has been stolen from a stud outside Prague. The G1 winner is alleged to be owned by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a close ally of Vladimir Putin.

The 16-year-old, who won more than $1m in his racing career with German trainer Wladimir Hickst, was part of the property and assets of Kadyrov which have been sanctioned and frozen since Russia illegally annexed Crimea and invaded Ukraine.

Oisin Murphy booked for All-Star Mile debut

GB: Oisin Murphy is hoping to secure a visa in order to take up an offer to ride the Annabel Neasham-trained Laws Of Indices in the All-Star Mile at Fliemington on Saturday week [March 18].

The three-time champion jockey, who returned from a 14-month ban last month, will afterwards head to Dubai, where he has been booked to partner Japanese colt Perriere in the UAE Derby.

Damian Lane to partner white wonder Sodashi

Japan: Sodashi will have a new jockey aboard when she begins her 2023 campaign in the G1 Victoria Mile on May 14 after Australian Damian Lane was booked to ride the white wonder of Japanese racing. Lane added to his growing international profile by winning the Red Sea Turf Handicap on Japan’s Silver Sonic during the Saudi Cup meeting.

Elsewhere in racing …

USA: Prolific trainer Jamie Ness gets six-month ban rescinded More here

Australia: Trainer and jockey in Birdsville device scandal receive heavy bans More here

USA: NYRA announce Saratoga stakes schedule More here

USA: Kentucky Derby museum exhibition to honor women jockeys More here

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