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Mallory Haigh

Hansen Survived His Mother to Achieve Acclaim

He became a champion and is scheduled to start in the Run for the Roses.

If horses celebrated Mother’s Day, 3-year-old Hansen probably wouldn’t ever give his winning dam, Stormy Sunday, a present. Because of her, the champion and Kentucky Derby Presented By Yum! Brands (gr. I) contender didn’t have it easy in the first months of his life.

“He had to survive his mother, who was not a good mother,” said Annice Johnson, who operates Kentucky-based Land o’ Goshen Farm, where Hansen was foaled, raised, and broken.

Stormy Sunday (by Sir Cat) produced her first foal, Tapanna, in 2008 and the following year she had Hansen. Both were sired by Tapit .

“The first foal she tried to kill and then when we took the foal away from her for a little bit, she decided she would kill us instead,” Johnson said. “I almost got a nurse mare, but finally she sort of settled down and she tolerated him nursing. With Hansen, she was a little better than with the first one, but she was never going to be Mother of the Year.

“She would never share her feed tub with either baby,” Johnson continued. “They learned real quick not to even look at her feed tub; they would just step away. I had another tub for them, but I had to put it far enough away that Stormy Sunday didn’t try to take both of the tubs for herself.”

But Hansen thrived anyway, showing no ill effects from the lack of affection.

“He was a very nice, agreeable, easy-to-handle colt,” Johnson remembered. “He always was attractive and anyone who saw him said, ‘Ooooh, that one’s a good one’. It wasn’t because he was light gray so much; he started out fairly dark. But he caught everybody’s eye because he was such a nice-looking young horse.”

When Hansen and Stormy Sunday parted ways, the split was not dramatic.

“Weaning was not a big issue,” Johnson said. “I’m not sure which one was happier to be apart. There wasn’t a lot of vocalization from either side.”

When Hansen got old enough to break, he was a willing learner, according to Johnson.

“He was a good boy; he liked his lessons,” she said. “He picked up everything pretty quick and he never tried to drop anybody. But he didn’t have a great mouth. There are some horses that are more tender-mouthed and you can steer and stop them better. With him, you had to over-steer.”

Dr. Kendall Hansen bred Hansen and he campaigns the colt in partnership with Skychai Racing.

“Hansen was one of those horses that you loved to have because he always looked good and he made you look good,” Johnson said. “He always felt good, but he was never evil. He didn’t want to hurt anybody.”

Johnson plans to be at Churchill Downs May 5 to watch Hansen in the Kentucky Derby. She’ll probably spend the day on the backstretch at parties given by trainer William “Jinks” Fires and Walter Bindner.

“Even though I really like the backside better than the frontside in a lot of ways,” Johnson said, “this would be the year I would like to go to the frontside and I have invitations. But I fractured my tibial plateau and I’m on crutches. My doctor said, ‘Please do not go to the frontside.’ Being on crutches in the Derby crowd would be insane.”