Reed Palmer Photography/Churchill Downs

Hansen to Skip Woody Stephens

Colt will not start due to a low red blood cell count.

Hansen, who won this year’s Gotham (gr. III) and was last year's champion 2-year-old male, will not start in the June 9 Woody Stephens (gr. II) at Belmont Park due to a low red blood cell count.

“It was a little bit lower than it normally is and (trainer) Mike (Maker) didn’t feel he was 100% this week,” said breeder Dr. Kendall Hansen, who campaigns Hansen in partnership with Skychai Racing.

The colt, who finished ninth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and skipped the May 19 Preakness Stakes (gr. I), will remain in training while he recovers. 

“I feel bad, obviously…not to have the exposure of both the Preakness and Belmont (gr. I) days, is devastating,” added Hansen. “It would have been nice to go out (New York) with our friends and family.

“I’m also sad I can’t make it for Hope (Hudson)…Hansen is one of her favorite horses, along with I'll Have Another ,” said Hansen of the 12-year-old from Missouri who is battling a rare disease. Hudson attended the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, and will be present at the Belmont to watch I'll Have Another's Triple Crown attempt thanks to financial support from Make-A-Wish Foundation, Hansen, and several other horse industry members.

Hansen said he would probably point his colt toward the June 30 Iowa Derby (gr. III) at Prairie Meadows.

“It’s a nice race because it’s 1 1/16 miles and Hansen is three-for-three at that distance,” said Kendall Hansen of his colt’s victories in the Bluegrass Cat Kentucky Cup Juvenile, Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I), and Gotham.

Hansen’s next goal following the Iowa Derby is the Aug. 4 West Virginia Derby (gr. II) at Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort. “It’s a $750,000 race, but if you’ve won a grade I as a 2-year-old or 3-year-old, they throw in another $250,000. So we’d be going after a $1 million purse,” Kendall Hansen explained.

In all, Hansen holds a record of 4-2-0 from seven starts, for earnings of $1,623,305. By Tapit , he is out of the Sir Cat mare Stormy Sunday.

“We’ll just relax and go through the pain of not participating (on Belmont Day) and shoot for Iowa,” said Kendall Hansen. “I still feel Hansen is going to have a big year; it will just be down the road.”