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Hansen, Blue Grass challengers put in final works
By Marty McGee
LEXINGTON, Ky. – A handful of hopefuls for the Blue Grass Stakes had their final pre-race breezes on a busy Saturday morning at Keeneland, but it was a workout at a quieter venue some 75 miles away in Louisville that leads the pre-race talk for the main Keeneland stepping-stone to the Kentucky Derby.
Hansen, tucked away at the Trackside training center, had his final drill for the Keeneland showcase when going five furlongs in a minute flat. The nearly white colt joined a workmate for the final quarter-mile of the work when going in splits of 11.80 seconds, 23.60, 35.80, and 48.20. It was the fourth Trackside work for the 2011 2-year-old champion since he rebounded from his only career loss by posting a three-length victory in the March 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct.
“I just have a workmate jump in with him to start their work where he’s finishing to get [Hansen] to finish well,” explained trainer Mike Maker. “It worked out well. Before the Gotham, that’s kind of how we were working him. So we’re hoping to have a replay for the Blue Grass.”
The 1 1/8-mile race Blue Grass is set for next Saturday, April 14, and will be telecast by CNBC. A sizable field is expected when entries are drawn Wednesday.
In the Saturday works at Keeneland for the Grade 1, $750,000 Blue Grass, all of them at five furlongs over Polytrack: Howe Great, trained by Graham Motion, went in 1:01.60; Adirondack King (John Servis), 59.80; Golden Ticket (Ken McPeek), 1:03; and Politicallycorrect (Wesley Ward), 59 seconds.
Meanwhile, Motion, who left here Saturday for his Maryland home, said he has set the same workout schedule for Went the Day Well that he followed last year with Animal Kingdom before the Derby: two Saturday works at Keeneland (April 14, 21), followed by a final Saturday work (April 28) at Churchill. Went the Day Well, winner of the March 24 Spiral at Turfway Park, will be attempting to emulate Animal Kingdom, winner of both the Spiral and the Derby.
Successful Dan points to Alysheba
Successful Dan came out of his comeback victory in good shape and will go next in the Alysheba Stakes on the Kentucky Oaks undercard, trainer Charlie Lopresti said.
Successful Dan won a Polytrack allowance Friday at the Beard Course distance of seven furlongs and 184 feet in his first start in more than 16 months, thrilling Lopresti.
“This is a serious horse,” he said.
Regarding the suspensory injury that relegated the 6-year-old gelding to the sidelines for so long, Lopresti said: “Oh, he’ll keep living in ice. But we’ll keep it tight and try to keep him happy.”
Meanwhile, Golden Yank, the surprise runner-up at 56-1, will go next in the 1 1/8-mile Ben Ali on April 22 at Keeneland, trainer Gary Thomas said.
“He needs more ground,” he said.
No local works planned for Jones duo
Mark Valeski and Believe You Can were recent arrivals at Keeneland from New Orleans, but they will not have any local workouts before moving over to Churchill for their respective next races, trainer Larry Jones said.
Believe You Can, winner of the Fair Grounds Oaks, is one of the favorites for the May 4 Kentucky Oaks, while Mark Valeski, second in the Louisiana Derby, goes next in the May 5 Kentucky Derby.
◗ Opening day portends a good 15-day meet: Attendance was 23,986, up about 5 percent over the corresponding 2011 date, while all-sources handle of $9,161,882 was up nearly 13 percent.
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