03/05/2012 3:56PM

Aqueduct: Hansen planning return trip to New York for Wood Memorial

Adam Coglianese
Hansen, under Ramon Dominguez, ran to a three-length victory in the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct with a Beyer Figure of 95.

With his stature back intact, champion Hansen left Belmont Park on Monday morning on a van bound for Kentucky, but the winner of Saturday’s Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct is expected to return next month for the $1 million Wood Memorial to be run over Aqueduct’s main track on April 7.

Hansen, who spent the winter in south Florida, was scheduled to arrive Monday night at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky. He will stay there until the end of the week, when he will relocate to Churchill Downs’ Trackside training facility, a few miles away from Churchill itself. Trackside opens Friday.

With an eye on keeping Hansen in cooler climates, Maker said it didn’t make sense to ship Hansen back to Gulfstream Park in south Florida.

“No use going in the heat then coming back,” Maker said.

Hansen rebounded from his five-length loss to Algorithms in the Holy Bull on Jan. 29 with a solid three-length victory over a suspect group in the Grade 3, $400,000 Gotham run over Aqueduct’s inner track. He was five wide entering the first turn and then rated kindly off the pacesetting King and Crusader before taking over nearing the top of the stretch. He ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.84 over a harrowed track labeled good and earned a 95 Beyer Speed Figure for the performance.

As a 2-year-old, Hansen won all three of his starts on the front end, including a head victory over Union Rags in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill. On Saturday, Maker got the desired results from removing blinkers and changing bits on Hansen in the Gotham.

“Hopefully, we can maintain where we’re at right now,” Maker said. “That’s kind of how we’d like to see him handle the pace scenario.”

Maker said Hansen came out of the race “great. . . . no worse for the wear.” The horse will do the bulk of his training in Kentucky before returning for the Wood. Part-owner Dr. Kendall Hansen, for whom the horse is named, said he would love to run in the $500,000 Spiral Stakes at Turfway on March 24, but Maker said the timing of the Wood – it’s five weeks from the Gotham and four to the Derby – makes the most sense.

“That was one of the main reasons for going to the Gotham,” Maker said. “That was our plan. I think we’ll be on the same page for the Wood.”

Though Hansen had 12 challengers in the Gotham, it remains to be seen how many he will face in the Wood. Trainer Kelly Breen said Gotham runner-up My Adonis would remain in New York and be pointed to the Wood, run at 1 1/8 miles. Other colts whose connections are pointing to the Wood are The Lumber Guy, winner of the Miracle Wood Stakes at Laurel, and Our Entourage, who is 2 for 2 on turf, but 0 for 2 on dirt.

Trainer Dale Romans said he would consider either Gotham third-place finisher Finnegans Wake or Fountain of Youth runner-up News Pending for the Wood. Finnegans Wake was flown back to south Florida on Sunday, Romans said.