Santa Anita Stable Notes Friday, March 31, 2023
STABLE NOTES BY VICTOR RYAN
FRIDAY, MARCH 31, 2023
Photo: Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire
- • MANDARIN HERO ARRIVES FOR GI SA DERBY; KIMURA RIDES - • GROUP-PLACED SEISAI MAKES U.S. BOW IN ROYAL HEROINE - • MAIN TRACK OPENED FOR GALLOPERS UNDER SUNNY SKIES - • FRIDAY’S TURF SPRINTS CHANGED TO 5 ½ FURLONGS - • COAST-TO-COAST PICK 5 RETURNS SATURDAY
MANDARIN HERO ARRIVES FOR GI SA DERBY; KAZUSHI KIMURA WILL RIDE
Japanese import Mandarin Hero arrived at Barn 121 at Santa Anita Friday morning after spending the previous two days at a quarantine facility near LAX.
Mandarin Hero is set to become the first horse from Japan’s National Association of Racing to compete in the U.S. when he goes postward in the GI Runhappy Santa Anita Derby on April 8. Trained by Terunobu Fujita, Mandarin Hero was a perfect 4-for-4 last year at Oi Racecourse near Tokyo and was a fast-closing second by a neck in his lone start this year on Feb. 2, also at Oi.
Mandarin Hero will be ridden in the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby by Japanese native Kazushi Kimura, which was first reported by Daily Racing Form’s Steve Andersen on Thursday.
“I’m really proud of this opportunity,” Kimura said Friday morning.
Kimura’s agent, Brandon O’Bryan, said he was contacted by Mandarin Hero’s connections shortly after the GII San Felipe on March 4 inquiring about riding the Santa Anita Derby. Kimura and O’Bryan agreed to the ride on Tuesday.
“What I like about this horse is his consistency. He likes to win,” O’Bryan said Friday. “And the Japanese have obviously been winning races everywhere they go the last few years. We don’t know exactly where this horse will fit here, but the Derby is likely to be a short field and you can’t win from the jock’s room.”
A dark brown colt by Shanghai Bobby, Mandarin Hero will remain under quarantine conditions at Santa Anita with restricted access. Joining him on the trip from Japan were both his groom and exercise rider. Mandarin Hero will also need to be accompanied by a veterinarian each morning when he visits the track. Santa Anita Director of Racing and Racing Secretary Jason Egan said Mandarin Hero is scheduled to train between 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. each morning.
Kimura, North America’s Eclipse Award Apprentice Jockey in 2019, has ridden full time at Santa Anita during the Classic Meet after being the leading rider at Woodbine the last two years. In 99 mounts here entering Saturday, Kimura had 10 wins including three stakes. He is scheduled to ride at Santa Anita through April 9 before returning to Toronto to prepare for Woodbine’s meet opener on April 22.
O’Bryan said the plan is for Kimura to occasionally return to Santa Anita this spring for specific stakes assignments. First up will be the weekend of April 29-30. Kimura is slated to ride both Duvet Day for trainer Michael McCarthy, likely in the GIII Santa Barbara, and Kirstenbosch in the GII Santa Maria for trainer John Sadler. Kimura won the Astra Stakes aboard Duvet Day here on Jan. 21 and the GIII La Canada with Kirstenbosch on Jan. 15.
“I’m so satisfied with my time at Santa Anita,” Kimura said Friday. “To ride with guys like Frankie Dettori and John Velazquez has been like a dream. With some nice stakes horses also, it’s just been great.”
Entries for the Santa Anita Derby, as well as the remainder of the April 8 card, will be taken on Wednesday. Other stakes on tap that day are the GII Santa Anita Oaks, GII Charles Whittingham, GII Monrovia and both the Echo Eddie and Evening Jewel for statebreds.
GROUP-PLACED SEISAI MAKES U.S. BOW IN ROYAL HEROINE
Trainer John Sadler will unveil what looks to be a promising import from Europe on Saturday when he saddles the 4-year-old Irish-bred filly Seisai in the Grade II Royal Heroine going a mile on turf.
Seisai made 14 starts in Ireland for previous trainer Joseph O’Brien before arriving at Santa Anita this winter. While just a two-time winner, Seisai placed in multiple group stakes including a 1 ¼-mile Group II at the Curragh last July when beaten just a half-length by stablemate Lily Pond. A month after that win, Lily Pond was shipped by O’Brien to Churchill Downs where she finished fourth in the Grade I Beverly D. on Aug. 13.
Seisai wound up stateside with Sadler after she was purchased at England’s Tattersalls sale in December for $475,000 by William S. Farish of Lane’s End Farm. The Gleneagles filly started working at Santa Anita on Jan. 23.
“Bill Farish was over there and bought her,” Sadler explained on Friday. “He called me up and said he’s sending her to me. I had nothing to do with the purchase but am the beneficiary as trainer.”
Farish and Sadler’s recent history includes teaming with the undefeated superstar Flightline, who Farish co-owned and Sadler trained. Flightline is currently standing at Lane’s End in central Kentucky.
As for Seisai, Sadler said the filly “has done well since she’s been here. We had a few delays with her because of the rain-soaked winter we’ve had here, otherwise she would have run earlier,” Sadler added. “But it looks like she has some nice Group form in Europe and I think this is a nice spot to start her at a mile.”
In Europe, Seisai raced at distances up to 1 ½ miles.
“It looks to me like there won’t be any distance limitations for her moving forward,” Sadler said.
With Santa Anita receiving more than an inch of rain this week, the turf course Friday will be listed as “good.” Sadler noted that should be an advantage for Seisai on Saturday.
“The little wetness in the course should help her being a Euro,” he said.
Seisai will be ridden in her U.S. debut by Umberto Rispoli. She is listed as the 3-1 co-second choice on the morning in a field of six.
The Royal Heroine goes as Saturday’s seventh race with post time at approximately 4:07 p.m. The field in post position order: School Dance, Ramon Vazquez (3-1); Honey Jar, Kazushi Kimura (5-1); Closing Remarks, Joe Bravo (2-1); Nadette, Frankie Dettori (6-1); Very Scary, Kent Desormeaux (6-1); Seisai, Umberto Rispoli (3-1).
MAIN TRACK OPENED FOR GALLOPERS UNDER CLEAR SKIES FRIDAY The skies were clear and the horses were galloping at Santa Anita Friday morning following a rain storm this week that forced the main track to be closed on Thursday.
Santa Anita received more than an inch of rain from Tuesday through Thursday morning, pushing the total rainfall here to more than 34 inches since the start of the Classic Meet on Dec. 26. The wet weather at Santa Anita has resulted in eight cards being canceled. Four of the cancellations have already been made up with another makeup date scheduled for Friday, April 21.
Due to the most recent storm, there have been no timed workouts at Santa Anita since Tuesday. A racing office official confirmed that workouts on the main track would resume on Saturday. The training track will be open for joggers only.
COAST-TO-COAST PICK 5 WITH LOW TAKEOUT RETURNS SATURDAY
The $1 Coast-to-Coast Pick 5 featuring a player-friendly 15 percent takeout returns Saturday with races from Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park. It kicks off at approximately 2:15 p.m. PT with the 12th race from Gulfstream, the Grade II Gulfstream Park Oaks, and ends with the GII Royal Heroine at Santa Anita, which goes as the seventh race at approximately 3:59 p.m. PT.
The other races in the sequence are the Appleton Stakes and GI Florida Derby at Gulfstream and the sixth race from Santa Anita, a $10,000 claimer at 5 ½ furlongs for older horses.
Saturday’s Coast-to-Coast Pick 5 averages 9.2 starters per race. Last Sunday’s Coast-to-Coast Pick 5 returned $10,697.20 for 11 winning tickets.
FINISH LINES: Due to recent rain, the turf chute will not be used on Friday. Both the opener, scheduled for six furlongs on turf, and the sixth race at 6 ½ furlongs will now both be run at 5 ½ furlongs on turf… There is a $288,165.28 Rainbow 6 carryover for Friday’s card. The sequence starts with the third race at approximately 1:59 p.m… XBTV analyst Jeff Seigel will be Tom Quigley’s featured handicapping guest Saturday on the Santa Anita simulcast feed starting at 11:50…Tickets to this year’s Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita on Nov. 3-4 will go on sale May 4. You can view seating options and pricing at BreedersCup.com/Tickets… THERE WILL BE A MANDATORY PAYOUT IN THE 20 CENT RAINBOW PICK SIX ON RUNHAPPY SANTA ANITA DERBY DAY, SATURDAY, APRIL 8. IT IS EXPECTED THE DERBY DAY RAINBOW SIX POOL WILL EXCEED $3 MILLION.