After Hansen drew ideally in post 14 on May 2, not only did trainer Mike Maker breathe a sigh of relief, but after the long day wound down, for the first time he had a clear vision of how the reigning juvenile champion would win the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) on May 5.
“Ideally it plays out in my head that Bodemeister and Trinniberg run off in about :44 (for a half-mile), I’m about eight lengths back in third, and there is another 10 lengths back to fourth and beyond. We turn for home and draw off,” said Maker, standing outside of Barn 42 on May 3.
“And that’s when my alarm went off.”
Maker’s vivid dream of how Derby 138 will play out could become a reality on Saturday at Churchill Downs. It was only six months ago that the son of Tapit defeated eight of his upcoming opponents in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) over the same track. Of course, that race was at 1 1/16 miles, not the demanding 1 1/4 miles that he will have to travel in the Derby.
But Hansen has shown that he can carry his electric speed a long way. Even though he finished second to Dullahan in the April 14 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland, he set a quick pace and was ahead by 2 1/2 lengths at the eighth pole before being run down. Maker thinks that race sets his colt up well for the Derby, although he didn’t go as far as the horse’s breeder and co-owner, Dr. Kendall Hansen, who said at the draw that “we are going to win this race.” But he is still very confident that he will be right in the mix.
“I love (Dr. Hansen’s) confidence,” Maker said. “I think we have a great chance. It’s nice to know we’ve already beaten eight of these horses…now we just have one more piece to add to the puzzle.”
After completing his training at nearby Trackside Training Center earlier in the week, Hansen settled into his stall at Churchill on Wednesday. On Thursday morning he went out to the track at about 8:30 a.m. EDT, following several other Derby contenders for their morning exercise.
According to Maker, all systems are go.