With sponsorship from Kendall Hansen, M.D., and Intervention Pain Specialists of Crestview Hills, Ky., Turfway Park has added the Hansen Starter Handicap to its lineup March 22, Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes (gr. III) day.
The 6 1/2-furlong Hansen Starter Handicap carries a $50,000 purse and is written for horses 4 years old and up that started for a claiming price of $50,000 or less in the year before this year's Spiral Stakes. nominations close March 13.
The race is named for Hansen's eponymous homebred, the 2011 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner and Eclipse Award champion 2-year-old now standing in South Korea. The eye-catching, nearly white colt won his debut by more than 13 lengths at Turfway and then romped again in the Bluegrass Cat Kentucky Cup Juvenile by nearly 14 lengths, also at Turfway. In his next start Hansen set the pace and then gamely held off eventual Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Union Rags to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile by a head, clinching the championship.
"One of the best traditions in horse racing is to name a race after a special horse. Hansen's uniquely pure white color, his attractive face, and his dominant running style attracted fans around the world," said Hansen. "Naming a race at Turfway after Hansen is a perfect fit, since he won his first two races there in such jaw-dropping fashion.
"Turfway has also been my home track for my racing operation of 30 years and it's where I had my best success when I handicapped for a living in 1980 and '81. It's an honor to be able to add such a race to the great Spiral day tradition. It's also fun for me this year because Hansen's half brother Gunderson has won both his races at Turfway and likely will run in the race."
"Dr. Hansen's sponsorship affords us the opportunity not only to add another stake to our signature day of racing but also to attract high level claiming horses, which recently have been underrepresented in our program," said director of racing Tyler Picklesimer. "Additionally, it's refreshing to see a local businessman and Thoroughbred owner take an active role to help strengthen our racing product."