The top three finishers in the April 14 Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) at Keeneland did not stay in the Lexington area for long.
Following their efforts, winner Dullahan returned to Churchill Downs, and Hansen and Gung Ho, second and third respectively, returned to trainer Mike Maker’s barn at Trackside Training Center in Louisville.
“He looks great this morning, like he hadn’t run at all,” said trainer Dale Romans of Dullahan, whose two career victories have come over Keeneland’s Polytrack surface. Dullahan's next start is expected to be in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
“I think he will run well on dirt,” Romans said of the half-brother to 2009 winner Mine That Bird. “He ran a big race in the Breeders’ Cup (Juvenile, gr. I) last fall and he is better this year. He should handle the surface.”
Maker said all was well with Hansen and Gung Ho the morning after the Blue Grass. “Both of them got back safe and sound and are fine this morning,” Maker said.
Hansen, with $1,550,000 in graded stakes earnings, would be the top money earner in this year’s Kentucky Derby. Gung Ho picked up $75,000 in the Toyota Blue Grass, but has only $76,000 in graded money, which will not be enough to make the Derby field. Entrants are limited to the top 20 horses ranked by graded stakes earnings.
“We are just going to soak it all in for now,” Maker said in a statement. “I’m not sure where he (Gung Ho) will run next but the American Turf (gr. IIT, May 4 at Churchill) is among the possibilities.”
Dave Rock, assistant to trainer Graham Motion, said that fifth-place finisher Howe Great came out of the race in good order but that plans for a next start had not been determined. Howe Great had won three starts on grass prior to the Toyota Blue Grass.
Norman Casse, assistant trainer of sixth-place finisher Prospective , said the John Oxley-owned colt “came out of the race in good order.”
Stabled at Churchill Downs, Prospective added $1,875 in graded money to his bankroll and now has $367,327 in graded stakes earnings—more than enough to rank among the top 20 of horses under consideration for the Kentucky Derby on May 5.
“Right now, we are kind of on the fence (about the Derby),” Casse said.