Hansen, the 2-year-old champion of 2011 and winner of that year's Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), has been sold to South Korea, former owner Dr. Kendall Hansen confirmed Oct. 8.
The 4-year-old son of Tapit was purchased by Coolmore's Ashford Stud and began the 2013 season there after retiring near the end of 2012. He won the Gotham Stakes (gr. III) and took the Iowa Derby (gr. III) by 10 lengths last year, and was runner-up in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) when trained by Mike Maker for Hansen and Skychai Racing.
"Hansen left for Korea today," Hansen said. "The government there is apparently going full-throttle trying to improve their racing industry, and they really want top bloodlines for their program."
Hansen, who purchased a large group of mares to send to the first-year stallion, said he understood the business aspect of the deal, although he was disappointed with the sale of his homebred colt.
"It's rare for anybody to buy a stallion in their second year," Hansen said. "They got the offer out of the blue and the number was pretty high, they made more than I did for him... I think most farms would have done the same in that situation, but obviously I wouldn't have because I had the personal connection to him."
Hansen said conditions of the sale included a buy-back option depending on how the stallion's first crop fares.
"There's a chance he could earn his way back," the former owner said. "They insisted they have an option to buy him back if his first crop throws some stakes winners."
Hansen, bred in Kentucky by Dr. Hansen out of the Sir Cat mare Stormy Sunday, retired with five wins and two seconds from nine starts for earnings of $1,810,805. He established himself as a serious contender when he won the Bluegrass Cat Kentucky Cup Juvenile by 13 3/4 lengths fresh off a maiden victory at Turfway Park, and clinched his championship honors with a win by a head over the following season's Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Union Rags , winner of the 2011 Three Chimneys Saratoga Stakes (gr. II) and Champagne Stakes (gr. I).
Hansen also made headlines when his connections, who gave away hundreds of toy models of the horse, dyed his tail blue for the running of the Blue Grass but were ordered by stewards to remove the color before the Keeneland race. The colt ran ninth in the 2012 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and eventually wound up racing with his tail dyed blue in the Aug. 4 West Virginia Derby (gr. II), in which he finished fourth before retiring with a tendon injury.
"I didn't think about this possibility (of Hansen being sold overseas) or I would have put it in the contract, but now the best thing I can do now is make sure these foals have a chance to succeed on the racetrack," Hansen said.
Other notable stallions recently sold to the Korea Racing Association include Rock Hard Ten, by Kris S., who formerly stood at Lane's End Farm, and Chapel Royal, by Montbrook, who stood at Signature Stallions in Florida.
Korea opened its first racetrack in Busan, the second-largest city in South Korea, in September of 2005. In 2010 the Korean government approved a second racetrack in Youngchun, Gyungsangdo province, which is expected to expand the market for both local breeders and foreign suppliers when it opens in August 2015.
The Youngchun racecourse will be similar to the Busan racecourse in scale of operation and will race some 800 registered horses.
In 2010, Korean horsemen imported 119 head of breeding stock and 200 racehorses from the U.S. The Korean breeding industry contributes about 1,000 horses a year to the sport.