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Updated on 04/17/2012 1:21PM
Blue Grass: Dullahan uses powerful late kick to reel in Hansen; Kentucky Derby is next
By Marty McGee
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Dullahan stamped himself as one of the favorites for the 138th Kentucky Derby and put himself in the record books by rolling past favored Hansen to win the 88th running of the Grade 1, $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes on a warm Saturday afternoon at Keeneland.
With Kent Desormeaux aboard for the Donegal Racing partnership and trainer Dale Romans, Dullahan prevailed by 1 1/4 lengths over front-running Hansen, returning $8.40 as the second choice in a field of 13 3-year-olds. The chestnut colt became the first horse to win the Breeders' Futurity at 2 and the Blue Grass at 3 since the great Round Table did it in 1956-57.
"I'm absolutely thrilled," said Romans, a Louisville native and resident who, like most trainers, has made winning the Derby his Number 1 goal. "We're going home with a major threat to win the Kentucky Derby."
Hansen, the 6-5 choice, finished 2 1/2 lengths before third-place Gung Ho, a 31-1 shot, with Holy Candy (11-1) another length back in fourth.
Dullahan and Hansen already were assured spots in the field for the May 5 Derby because of their prior earnings, so the race brought no major shakeups in the pecking order in that regard.
In front of a record-breaking crowd of 40,617, Hansen broke swiftly under Ramon Dominguez to make a solo lead into the first turn and did not take any pressure going in fractions of 23.10 seconds, 46.64, and 1:11.32 while Dullahan bided his time in 10th. On the far turn, Desormeaux began passing horses along the rail, then swung his mount out for the drive without incurring any traffic trouble. Down the stretch, Dullahan came flying down the middle of the Polytrack surface, going past Hansen with surprising ease for his second victory from eight career starts, finishing the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:47.94. His triumph in the Breeders' Futurity here last fall came as a maiden and makes him a rarity in that his first two career wins both came in Grade 1 events.
"Right at the quarter pole he switched leads, and as soon as he straightened up, there was a big hole that he ran right through," said Desormeaux, the Hall of Fame jockey who already has won the Derby three times. He was very strong all the way to the wire."
Regarding how his horse rated kindly through the early stages, Desormeaux added, "I didn't care where he was, as long as he was floating. He was in the bridle and floating -- which was too good to be true. That horse was trained to the minute. Do it again Dale -- one more time."
Dullahan is by Even the Score out of the mare Mining My Own, which makes him a half-brother to 2009 Derby winner Mine That Bird. He was a $250,000 purchase at the 2010 Keeneland September yearling sales. The colt was coming off a second-place finish in the Palm Beach Stakes on the Gulfstream Park turf in his only prior start this year.
Donegal, Romans, and Desormeaux teamed two years ago with Paddy O'Prado, third in the Derby.
After the top four, the order was Howe Great, Prospective, Heavy Breathing, Midnight Crooner, Scatman, Ever So Lucky, Russian Greek, Politicallycorrect, and Hero of Order. All carried 123 pounds.
The day's attendance easily broke the previous mark of 33,821, set on Lexington Stakes Day in April 2007.
Great fanfare was part of the prerace story for the Blue Grass when Hansen, the 2-year-old champion of 2011, was supposed to show up in the paddock with his tail dyed blue. The stewards said several hours before the race that they would permit the spectacle to happen, but when the nearly white colt walked in the saddling area, the color had been washed out of the tail.
Meanwhile, Dr. Kendall Hansen, who named the star colt for himself, surrounded himself all day with a bevy of young ladies, including a trio dressed in flashy white dresses with fake blue horse tails and the word "Hansen" lettered across their backs.
Hansen's loss marks the 10th straight year that the favorite has been defeated in the Blue Grass. It also means the last juvenile champion to win the Blue Grass was Rockhill Native in 1980.
The $2 exacta (6-4) paid $23.60, the $1 trifecta (6-4-2) returned $164.50, and the dime superfecta (6-4-2-9) was worth $148.92.
10 days left to the Kentucky Derby & it blows me away to see which horses gets talked up, which played down. The smart horseplayers are the ones setting aside hype & their emotions, 7 just play like they would any tough race.
The official chart reads as "DULLAHAN unprepared at the start" . . does anybody agree with this assertion?
The Blue Grass race just goes to show everyone how fast this race actually was , and other than Dullahan / Hansen - that was it . Both Colts put in a very game performance in diffrent styles . The more important situation is : they both came back sound and ate / drank well Sunday - Monday morning . That is good news to hear . Hope to hear that about all the Derby contenders . Cant Wait ( May 5th ) Such an Awesome Bunch of Colts . And for a handfull , HAVE YET TO DIS-PLAY 100% OF THEIR TRUE FOUNDATION
The article didn't say anything about Dullahan's awkward gallop-out. Anybody hear anything about that?
Stunts like Hansen's owner pulled should be disallowed, especially at Keeneland. Just ask Hansen's Trainer...
You have Alpha who checked and came again at the end but couldn't get by a very game Gemologist. Then Hansen and Dullahan. Yeah, Dullahan set the track record but the only way he gets that record is with a hot pace set by Hansen, and he had the perfect trip with Desormeaux finding room on the rail. Union Rags was troubled in his last race, and I think he fires better in Kentucky. Creative Cause is full of heart, and watch out for Mark Valeski BABY...this pony will be 35:1 and has a heart as big as my wallet will be after the 20 ponies cross the line...WHO AM I BETTING?? No clue yet. HA
Listening to some of you guys is gut wrenching!! THis is going to be one of the best Kentucky derbys of all time!!
Great race by the winner, no doubt. Can't see him repeating that result in the Derby but best of luck to the connections involved. I believe this edition of the Derby to be a wide open affair at this point in time with several legitimate chances at the top prize. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if Dullahan pulled it off, afterall he is a half to that world beater Mine That Bird who showed us all that a mile and a quarter is well within their pedigree. I am not calling for Dullahan to win the race but he is from a decent enough family. Being a huge hockey fan I am naturally drawn to Howe Great as my selection. Poly to dirt, Graham Motion, a grandson of that great Hail To Reason stallion Sunday Silence and a mare from a family of stayers, why not? Good luck to all the first Saturday in May!
Creative Runs second and Indy runs 3rd
Union Rags wins the Derby..
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