Owner Reaffirms Wood Memorial for Hansen

Owner Reaffirms Wood Memorial for Hansen
Photo: Pat Lang
Hansen schooling at Turfway Park on March 9.

Gotham Stakes (gr. III) winner Hansen wrapped up his week at Turfway Park with a paddock appearance the evening of March 9, but his majority owner reaffirmed that the colt will run next in New York, not Kentucky.

Hansen schooled in the paddock between the sixth and seventh races in front of a decent-sized dollar beer night crowd that ventured out in the cold. He was scheduled to ship to trainer Mike Maker’s barn at the Churchill Downs Training Center March 10 to prepare for the April 7 Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I) at Aqueduct.

Hansen won his first two starts at Turfway last year, and officials there were hoping the Tapit   colt would compete in the March 24 Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (gr. III). But Dr. Kendall Hansen, who brought in partners Skychai Racing last fall before the colt’s Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) win, said it’s not in the cards—even though he’d like to see it.

“The Spiral is only two weeks from now,” Hansen said after the colt schooled. “It was wishful thinking on my part, but when push comes to shove, I’m not going to get in the way of (Maker’s plans).”

Hansen, who lives in Northern Kentucky, is a long-time Thoroughbred owner who has regularly raced at Turfway. He began betting horses there about 30 years ago.

Hansen said the colt had a good week at Turfway, where Maker has stalls, and seems to have come out of his Gotham effort in good order. The Gotham was at 1 1/16 miles, and Hansen, racing without blinkers, overcame a stumble at the start and a wide trip around the first turn. He also rated behind horses for the first time.

“We ran him at 5 1/2 furlongs in his first start, but we always thought he was a route horse,” Hansen said. “It was great to see him relax (in the Gotham). We can do what we want with him now. He didn’t have to extend himself in the stretch. Everything has been perfect so far.”

The goal is the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) on the first Saturday in May.

Turfway officials said they appreciated what amounted to a consolation prize given the timing of the Spiral.

“It was very cool and gracious of Mike Maker and Kendall and the whole team to let him come out here tonight,” Turfway president Bob Elliston said. "When you have a special animal like this, you generally don’t do anything out of the ordinary. It was very thoughtful.

“All these folks are Turfway guys, and that’s very special to us. It's kind of like when Philadelphia Park had Smarty Jones.”

Hansen, wearing a blue and white T-shirt underneath a sport coat, said sales of the “Great White Hope” shirts to benefit the New Vocations racehorse retirement program are doing well. The shirts were available for purchase at Turfway March 9.

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