Kazushi Kimura to ride in Kentucky Derby

Kazushi Kimura to ride in Kentucky Derby

TORONTO, May 4, 2023– Woodbine-based champion jockey Kazushi Kimura will ride Mandarin Hero (JPN) in Saturday’s 149th running of the Kentucky Derby.

A native of Hokkaido, Japan, Kimura will be making his first start in the opening leg of the U.S. Triple Crown when he pilots the son of Shanghai Bobby, trained by Terunobu Fujita for owner Hiroaki Arai.

Mandarin Hero went 4-for-4 as a 2-year-old, capped by a victory in the Haiseiko Kinen on November 16. He returned as a 3-year-old with a runner-up finish on February 23, his lone defeat in five races, all on dirt at Oi Racecourse. On April 8, he was runner-up in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby.

Mandarin Hero, sporting a record of 4-2-0 from six starts, is from the first Japanese-conceived crop of champion Shanghai Bobby. A victor at Santa Anita in his Eclipse Award-clinching Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, he also won the Grade 1 2012 Champagne and Grade 2 Hopeful.

Kimura, off to another strong start at Woodbine, is looking forward to contesting the “Run for the Roses.”

"I am so excited to get this opportunity and I hope it can be a memorable day for the connections, the horse and myself,” Kimura told Woodbine Communications.

Kimura joined the Woodbine jockey colony in 2018 and made an immediate impact. He was North America’s Eclipse Award-winning apprentice jockey in 2019 and he won the Sovereign Award, the Canadian equivalent, in both 2018 and 2019.

He also received the Sovereign as Canada’s outstanding rider in 2021 and 2022, after winning the Woodbine riding title in both years.

Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications / @woodbinecomms

Grace Martin
Grace Martin Communications Specialist, Woodbine Entertainment


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Woodbine Racetrack is Canada’s home the biggest and most exciting thoroughbred races. Located in Toronto, Woodbine Racetrack typically operates thoroughbred racing from April through December. Premier races include the longest continuously ran horse race in North America, The Queen’s Plate, Breeders Cup win and you’re in races the Woodbine Mile, Summer and Natalma Stakes, along with the fan-favourite Canadian International Stakes. 

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