Hansen, a local horse coming off of pair of dominating wins at Turfway Park, desperately held off heavy favorite Union Rags by a head to win a thriller in the $1,818,000 Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs (VIDEO).
Sent off at 7-1, Hansen went wire-to-wire under Ramon Dominguez to remain undefeated in three starts. He is a homebred for Dr. Kendall Hansen and is also co-owned by Harvey Diamond. The gray/roan son of Tapit —Stormy Sunday, by Sir Cat, is trained by Mike Maker, who is based in Louisville.
“He’s a natural," Maker said. "Obviously his performance speaks for itself. That’s the way he wants to run and we weren’t going to change a thing. It’s just that natural ability. Obviously he’s got a lot of speed and he’s always shown it. He’s also got a lot of fight; a bunch of good characteristics.
"We pointed to the Breeders’ Cup before he ever ran. I only told that to the owners, and they’re as crazy as I am.”
Hansen won his first two starts by a combined 25 1/2 lengths at Turfway, but was considered a longshot to defeat Union Rags, the Michael Matz-trained colt who was unbeaten in three decisive starts, including the prestigious Champagne Stakes (gr. I) Oct.8 at Belmont Park. Union Rags was sent off at 11-10.
Hansen broke sharply from post 5 under Dominguez and set a reasonable pace in the 1 1/16-mile event. He set fractions of :23.26, :47.39, and 1:12.24 on a fast main track that did not favor pacesetters all day. Speightscity tracked him early on, as did Fort Loudon and Creative Cause . Meanwhile, Union Rags and Javier Castellano, breaking from post 10, were wide throughout and made their bid at the leader on the turn.
Hansen was only a half-length ahead of Union Rags at the eighth pole, but dug in gamely. Union Rags drifted wide in upper stretch, losing costly ground that would prove to be the difference. He kept charging at the leader but the wire came just in time for Hansen to pull the upset.
"Going into the first turn, he was a little aggressive," Dominguez said of the winner. "That made me a little concerned. When we got to the backside, he switched to his right (lead) and he came back to me and relaxed beautiful. I got pressed pretty early, around the three-eighths pole, but he continued coming for me."
The final time was 1:44.14.
Hansen paid $16.20, $6.60, and $4.60. Union Rags settled for second, a length in front of Creative Cause. Dullahan was fourth in a field of 13.
Matz lamented the wide trip for Union Rags.
"I didn’t get a good draw," he said of the 10-post. "I guess that’s racing. What are you going to do? It’s one of those things. I wish I had an answer for you. It’s disappointing, that’s for sure, but I guess that’s horse racing.”
Hansen, who earned $1,080,000 for the victory, broke his maiden by 12 1/4 lengths Sept. 11 on the Turfway Polytrack and came back two weeks later to win the Kentucky Cup Juvenile by 13 1/4 more lengths.