01/05/2012 2:42PM

2011 Eclipse Awards: Hansen

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Patrick Lang/Lang Photography

Much like the boy-band Hanson became in 1997 with its improbable hit song MMMBop, the nearly white Thoroughbred Hansen became an overnight sensation with a blowout maiden victory late in the evening of Sept. 9 at Turfway Park.

The colt’s connections hope the horse has more staying power than did the band.

Hansen, who won his debut by 12 1/4 lengths at 10:22 p.m. on Sept. 9, built on that score with an equally dominant 13 1/4 length victory in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile, also at Turfway, 15 days later. On Nov. 5, in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Hansen played the national stage for the first time and registered his most courageous win, holding off the heavily favored Union Rags by a head. By virtue of his unblemished record, Hansen is a finalist for the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old colt or gelding.

[MORE: Complete list of 2011 Eclipse Awards finalists | Vote for Horse of the Year and win]

Hansen was bred by the Kentucky-based Kendall Hansen and raced solely for him in his first two starts. Following the Kentucky Cup Juvenile, Hansen sold part interest to Sky Chai Racing of Harvey Diamond and Jim Shircliff.

Hansen had shown trainer Mike Maker so much in his early training that he apparently told Kendall Hansen that this horse had the talent to be a Breeders’ Cup horse before his debut.

“We pointed to the Breeders’ Cup before he ever ran,” Maker said following Hansen’s Juvenile victory. “I only told that to the owners, and they’re as crazy as I am.”

Hansen displayed his craziness by kissing the colt in the Churchill Downs winner’s circle following the race.

Hansen, a son of 2004 Wood Memorial winner Tapit, appears to be an uncomplicated type of colt. Let him run away from the starting gate when the doors open and, like the Energizer Bunny, he’ll keep on going. Racing 5 1/2 furlongs in his debut, Hansen opened up a five-length advantage after running an opening quarter in 22.72 seconds and kept right on chugging. He ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:05.32.

Stretched out to 1 1/16 miles in the Kentucky Cup, Hansen did the same thing, running a quarter in 23.83 seconds and a half-mile in 46.91, Hansen again kept his speed going and rolled to win by 13 1/4 lengths. Victor Lebron was aboard for the colt’s first two wins.

With Union Rags coming off a dominant score in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont and Creative Cause having won the Grade 1 Norfolk impressively at Santa Anita, Hansen could do no better than be the 7-1 third choice in the Juvenile.

This time, with Ramon Dominguez up, Hansen again took the early lead and was able to repel the challenge of Union Rags, who came to him in upper stretch and then again nearing the wire after drifting out at the eighth pole.

“Obviously, he’s got a lot of speed and he’s always shown it,” Maker said. “He’s also got a lot of fight; a bunch of good characteristics.”
Hansen is based in south Florida and is being pointed to the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 29 for his 3-year-old debut before a possible rematch with Union Rags in the Fountain of Youth on Feb. 26.

Date Track Race Finish Chart Distance Time Beyers Video
11/5/11 CD BC Juvenile 1st 1 1/16 mile 1:44.44 94 Video
9/24/11 TP Kentucky Cup Juvenile 1st 1 1/16 mile 1:45.83 80 Video
9/9/11 TP Maiden Special Weight 1st 5 1/2 furlongs 1:05.12 89 N/A

Hansen

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Breeder: Kendall E. Hansen
Trainer: Michael J. Maker
Owner: Kendall E. Hansen
Record: 2-2-0-0
Best Beyer: 89