Updated on 03/25/2012 9:39AM

Hansen likely to run in Blue Grass; Alpha re-routes to Wood Memorial

Tom Keyser
Hansen is likely to make his final Kentucky Derby prep in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

Hansen will likely make his final Kentucky Derby prep in the Blue Grass rather than the Wood Memorial, his owner said Thursday. The news led trainer Kiaran McLaughlin to say Alpha will be shipped back to New York for the Wood rather than run in the Louisiana Derby.

Hansen’s owner and namesake, Dr. Kendall Hansen, said he probably won’t confirm the move until next week, but that “it’s very probable” the colt will make his next start in the $750,000 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 14 rather than one week earlier in the $1 million Wood Memorial at Aqueduct as originally scheduled.

The owner said he had a long list of reasons why the Blue Grass was a better alternative for Hansen, last year’s 2-year-old champion and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner, not the least of which was his desire to keep the horse in Kentucky.

“It’s home, it’s safer for the horse to have to travel less, and he can sleep in his own stall and go right over for the race,” Hansen said. “Plus, Keeneland has such an atmosphere. It’s so romantic there, it’s kind of what I’m in the game for. Even though it’s less money than the Wood, it just seems to make more sense to run him in the Blue Grass.”

Another reason to await the Blue Grass – although Hansen said it was not a major one – was that it would give the horse’s regular rider, Ramon Dominguez, another week to heal from the separated collarbone he suffered in a spill last Sunday in New York. According to his agent, Steve Rushing, Dominguez is expected to be back in time to ride the Wood on April 7.

With the news that Hansen is going to the Blue Grass, McLaughlin said Alpha would be re-routed from the April 1 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds to the Wood Memorial.

“Provided Hansen does not run in the Wood Memorial, Alpha will change direction,” McLaughlin said. “We are now on board to come to New York for the Wood Memorial.”

McLaughlin said that provided Dominguez is “healthy and riding” by then, he would retain the mount. Dominguez has ridden Alpha to victories in both the Count Fleet and Withers stakes over the inner track.

McLaughlin said Alpha would work at Palm Meadows on Saturday and then he would make a decision on whether to have the horse’s last work before the Wood in south Florida or in New York.

McLaughlin said he liked the idea of running in the Wood because it enables Alpha to run at Aqueduct – even though the race is run on the main track and not the inner – where he is familiar with the surroundings and gate crew.

“This is a better situation, we’re back with home-court advantage,” McLaughlin said. “We’re going to be able to run out of our own stall. When you ship into a receiving barn, it doesn’t feel like you’re at home. We’re happy about it.”

However, McLaughlin said he would still consider Alpha for the Florida Derby at Gulfstream on March 31 if, for some reason, Union Rags and El Padrino did not enter.

– additional reporting by David Grening

Kingsley Rose More than 1 year ago
guys u all need to check ur self ....which one of u is a trainer??? let the trainer train and we here so call know every thing lets find good winner and make some money that is our purpose for in the game is to make money ...... who care what them trainer do let find winners
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I know when I said 3 , 4 , 5 Colts - I was trying to be kind . In all honesty , the way things stand as of now , the most there could be of course is 8 starters out of last years Juvenile 2 yr old race . Any One Of These Colts Have A BIG-TIME-EDGE Over Any Other Colt That Stands In That Starting Gate In The KENTUCKY DERBY . A Huge Edge Wise ................ ALPHA - CREATIVE CAUSE - DULLAHAN - HANSEN - OPTIMIZER - PROSPECTIVE - TAKE CHARGE INDY - UNION RAGS ............................ Now , it is just the matter of making it to the starting gate . Come Derby Week - I WILL PROMISE YOU - If By Chance 4 Of These Colts Make It Into The DERBY , You wil see head-lines about last years Juvenile race like you have never seen before .................. and that will only help promote this years 2012 2 yr old Juveniles that much more . This will be a all win win situation for the racing indusry . TRIPLE CROWN , VERY UNLIKELY . This years 3 Yr Old Crop just has too much T A L E N T ................... many great looking Colts that never even got to race at the age of 2 , GEMOLOGIST - BODEMEISTER and the list just goes on and on . I COULD SEE VERY EASILY ( 3 DIFFRENT WINNERS ) and that would not be a bad sign either for our racing - not if our TRIPLE CROWN races bring out the best of the best . People are saying GEMOLOGIST as our next TRIPLE CROWN winner . Some people on the west coast are even saying BODEMEISTER as our TRIPLE CROWN winner . You See , that is how far fetched some of us may think . As Good As UNION RAGS is , As Good As CREATIVE CAUSE is , Even As Good As Our 2 yr old Champion HANSEN is ............... This Year I Do Believe Will Be One Of The Most Strongest TRIPLE CROWN racing we will have ever seen , MAYBE NOT AS CLOSE TO AFFIRMED vs ALYDAR but just good racing over all with more than just One or Two looking like stand-outs , but maybe Three even . AFTER THE KENTUCKY DERBY , I TRULY HOPE TRAINERS / OWNERS DONT START PULLING THEIR COLTS OFF THE TRIPLE CROWN PATH JUST BECAUSE THERE COLT DID NOT WIN THE DERBY ! That is my only main concern . Because this years 3 yr old crop is by far - the best we have seen in decades
Mike More than 1 year ago
Has Hansen run on polytrack before? He wins at a track., why would they not want to run on same track they just romped? Every horse travels, so that excuse doesn't cut it. If Hansen that good, any jock can ride him., so waiting for Dominguez doesn't fly either. If he runs in the Bluegrass, I will be betting others.
Rodney Dangerfield More than 1 year ago
Mike, Hansen broke is Maiden in a romp and also won a stakes race in a romp at Turfway. I don't understand all the negative post towards Hansen. The horse is not a fluke. Do I think he will win the Derby, no but that's the thing about horse racing, we have all been wrong before. By the way, how times has Todd Pletcher wond the Derby ? He is given all the top horses every year and he has one win to show for it.
Mike More than 1 year ago
Got it. As stated, I didn't know if he won on poly. The Gotham was certainly a weak bunch, but I am taking NOTHING away from Hansen. I agree on Pletcher., as a matter of fact, he burns is 2yr olds out., trains them to hard, too many races,. so when they turn 3, there is no gas left in the tank. That explains why he does sooo poorly in the Triple Crown races. Honestly, I hope he wins the Derby.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm pumped that Hansen will be in the Blue Grass. I'll be there and I can't wait to see him. It will be the 3rd time I've seen Hansen race in person. I don't see anything wrong with Alpha going to the Wood now. These are just preps for the main goal. He doesn't want Alpha to have too hard a prep against Hansen and probably knows Alpha now has a great chance to pick up $600,000 and a G1 win. Smart move by McLaughlin. Don't worry he can't duck them in the Derby. They all will have to prove themselves the first Saturday in May.
Darren More than 1 year ago
Douglas, I certainly hope Hansen galloped out well in the Gotham. He finished in 56-2 compared to the 54-2 El Padrino tallied (with nice gallop out) in the Risen Star. I know EP was asked, but 2 seconds is a wide margin.
Douglas More than 1 year ago
Darren , HANSEN really didnt run that hard in the GOTHAM . In fact , it was a practice Prep pretty much like no other when thinking how much HANSEN enjoys the lead . When a jockey takes away your comfort zone - in all honesty - no body knows how a Colt will respond when asked to pick it up . HANSEN did make a sharp veer to to left down to the rail when passing for the lead at the head of the stretch - by then the race was over , HANSEN just breezed the rest of the way ......... and continued his Gallop out very strongly ! People just want to dog our 2 yr old Champion because of spit , when the truth of the matter is - INSTEAD - TRY - SHOWING - OTHER PEOPLE HANSENS FAULTS - WITH AUTHORITY PROOF ! There is None ! In My Honest Opinion , I have Never Been So Sure Of This Years Kentucky Derby As I Am This Year : My Problem Is : I AM NOT TOO SURE AT THIS TIME WHICH ONE .................... I believe 99.9% that our 2012 KENTUCKY DERBY WINNER will come from last years 2 yr old Juvenile race . I Am Almost Certain Of That . That will really narrow the field down alot , maybe between 3 , 4 , 5 Colts ! Anyone can say Hog Wash to my statement , thats cool fine and dandy . But you can just smell it in the air - how these Prep races are all unfolding . This KENTUCKY DERBY will be one of our brightest moments taking place - because FINALLY , this is what our 2 YR OLD JUVENILE BREEDERS CUP RACE is all about , who continues on into the KENTUCKY DERBY . As of now , everything is looking better than ever before in the History of racing with our JUVENILES from last year , well close to better than ever , but you get my point ! What A Derby This Is Looking To Be ........ I Hope and Pray That All Colts Stay Safe and Healthy Leading Up To The KENTUCKY DERBY . It will be a DERBY none of us as a true fan will never forget
Douglas More than 1 year ago
EL PADRINO will not even be a factor in the KENTUCKY DERBY ! In fact , im not too sure EL PADRINO will run well when he faces UNION RAGS in the FLORIDA DERBY ......................... I did not like how EL PADRINO finished in his last start , even though the time was swifty . EL PADRINO looked absolutely tired crossing the finish line , and his gallop-out just came to a complete stop ................. That my friend is not a good sign
pete carmen More than 1 year ago
it is not a smart move by Kiaran to avoid the other top three year olds. Its obvious he understands that Alpha has limitations and ability to compete.
Douglas More than 1 year ago
As of Now - The stable of HANSEN Team-mates can not be more thrilled . HANSEN is in fit form condition for his next challenge . And Honestly , WOOD MEMORIAL or BLUE GRASS . . . . HANSEN with a nice trip , ought to put another WIN to his career . Go Ahead - Take your stand , BET AGAINST HANSEN ! All The Much Better Come Race Time With ODDS , even though 68% to 72% Would Probably Have HANSEN on Top Any-ways !
ALEJANDRO ANZA More than 1 year ago
c'mon!!!!!!!!!!!! it is a joke mr. mclaughlin? your horse can feel your fear,there is not an easy spot in april.......
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am rooting for Hansen to do well where ever he winds up next. The bigger his following the better. I strongly do not see him getting the derby distance. He will lack conditioning for the mile and a quarter. Neither the Gotham or the synthetic Blue Grass has produced anything worthwhile for sometime.
kenny h More than 1 year ago
Your comment about Hansen says, "I strongly do not see him getting the derby distance." Perhaps you may have heard about 2 of his Great-Grand-Daddys..... A.P. INDY & UNBRIDLED !!! I love that their running him in the Blue Grass...he will get a ton of conditioning running on the poly no matter where he finishes...I hope he runs 3rd!!! Then he'll be forgotten about come Derby day! I'd love to have him at about 10-1 on May 5th!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Everyone is looking to to do whatever best for their horse and that's what they should do. This fuels the excitement coming to the derby and the triple crown. Hansen's run in the Gotham was not inspiring the last quarter of mile did not indicate that of horse that is going to stretch out to a classic distance. The move to put him in a race to help him and give him the best opportunity to move forward makes sense. El Padrino has not done enough to be mentioned in the same sentence with Union Rags. UR's run in the Fountain of Youth shows a developing animal that ran a very mature race with a powerful finish and will stretch out to a classic distance. All these races create a great betting opportunity the first Saturday in May. That's the problem. We need less 2/3 year old graded races leading to the derby to have the type of classic field that means something, The fact is, good horses do not face each other enough before the 3 year old classics, like the old days. What we get is an inflated derby field with a whole lot of wannabees that cost good horses races.
Douglas More than 1 year ago
You say that the GOTHAM Stakes was not I N S P I R I N G ! You wasnt the Jockey , now was ya ! HANSEN didnt only finish the race ahead of everyone else - but HANSENs GALLOP OUT was so much more Impressive than the race alone . The Jockey / The Trainer / The Owner at this point in time would not trade places with NO - ONE ! They Have HANSEN Right Where They Have Him - In Fact - HANSEN Is Better Than They Hoped For At This Time . YOU NEED TO BE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE MY FRIEND LOOKING IN ! You Just Might See The Real Truth - Instead of reading too much He Say She Say . The HANSEN Team-mates are not one bit worried about the DERBY Distance . Though they will not come out and play it that way neither . WALK LIKE A BABY , ONE STEP AT A TIME . Ya Still Have To Defeat HANSEN in the KENTUCKY DERBY where it counts