Dr. Kendall Hansen, majority owner of his namesake, Hansen, is getting pumped for the April 14 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) and is already experiencing symptoms of
Hansen’s confidence in his horse supersedes any anxieties he might be feeling, and he’s expecting another bravura performance from his 2-year-old champion. The Keeneland Polytrack surface is a bit different from the Turfway Park Polytrack over which Hansen romped in his first two races, but Dr. Hansen can’t help but think of the dominance the colt displayed in those two races.
“I wouldn’t say I have a lot of confidence he’ll handle it the same, but it’s exciting when your horse has won his two races on Polytrack by 12 and 13 lengths,” he said. “I hope he can have a lot of fun on it Saturday without throwing out his biggest race. But I’m really shocked to see how tough the Blue Grass is coming up, and he’s going to have to run well even to win the race. But it sure would be nice to see him win by daylight and have plenty left at the end.”
Hansen realizes it is important that his colt rate behind horses, as he did in the Gotham Stakes (gr. III), but if the race unfolds where no one wants the lead, he wouldn’t mind seeing Hansen take them on a merry chase.
“We draw post positions tomorrow and I’ll spend several hours as I usually do handicapping the race and see who we’re running against,” Hansen said. “Ramon (Dominguez) is going to want to work with Hansen and teach him to tuck in behind horses. I hope some horses go out there for the lead so he can do that.
"I want to go into the Kentucky Derby with Ramon being able to use his internal clock as he goes around the first turn and determine whether it’s a fast pace or a slow pace. If it’s a slow pace he can go on with him and wire the field. If he thinks they’re going too quick, he’ll pull back and tuck in and wait until the quarter pole or three-eighths pole. Ramon is the best in the world and we’ll just have to rely on him and his expertise. The last thing we want is to be going too quick with a rank horse in the Kentucky Derby. But if he’s having a good day I also wouldn’t mind him pulling a Spend a Buck (who set blistering fractions and ran his field into the ground in the 1985
But first, Hansen has to run well enough on Saturday for Dominguez to decide to ride him in the
“I read that Ramon was going to make a decision after the Blue Grass, but (Alpha’s trainer) Kiaran McLaughlin knows we’re at the top, and there would have to be some type of major snafu for him not to ride Hansen,” Dr. Hansen said. “Alpha ran a huge race and some people felt he should have beaten Gemologist after having to check so hard, and he’s been a new horse since being put on Lasix. I can’t say I’m looking forward to running against Alpha. He’s definitely one of the top six contenders for the
Dr. Hansen is enjoying the celebrity he and his horse have experienced since last fall and is planning to take advantage of it on Saturday.
“He gets fan mail from as far away as
"He’s won some battles and American Indians used to paint their horses when they went into battle if they were heroic, and Hansen has earned the privilege of wearing something, and we might think of doing that in the near future. Watch carefully in the paddock at the Blue Grass. We’ve got a little surprise planned. We’ll do something a little bit eye-opening, so stay tuned.”
A good deal of Hansen’s appeal, in addition to his victories, is his color, and Dr. Hansen, who bred the colt, was flabbergasted when he laid eyes on him for the first time.
“He was a shock when he was born, with his brother being a bay,” he said. “I wasn’t planning on having a light gray horse, and he’s getting whiter. I notice his face more. He’s so intelligent and has so many different expressions on his face, which seems to be getting cuter. Everybody can see it now with the blinkers off. I like the little white stripe between his nostrils.
“He’s just got a heck of an engine on him and no one has been able to pick out a flaw yet on his conformation. Even one of my old trainers says he has muscles where he’s never seen muscles before. He’s put together perfectly, like a little Ferrari.”
Now, he hoping that little Ferrari speeds around the Keeneland track and can duplicate his Gotham Stakes (gr. III) performance, in which he proved he could overcome a very wide trip and still rate behind horses.