07/24/2012 8:21AM

Hansen looks headed to West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer

Coady Photography
Hansen will probably skip Sunday's Haskell at Monmouth for the West Virginia Derby Aug. 4.

Hansen most likely will bypass the Haskell Invitational in favor of the West Virginia Derby, trainer Mike Maker said Tuesday after Hansen worked five furlongs in 1:01.60 at his home base, the Trackside training center in Louisville, Ky.

Trainer Mike Maker, speaking from Saratoga, said he believes the West Virginia Derby, set for Aug. 4 at Mountaineer Park, is shaping up an easier spot than the Haskell, which will be run Sunday at Monmouth Park in New Jersey.

Both the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell and the Grade 2, $750,000 West Virginia Derby are run at 1 1/8 miles. Although their total purses differ, the winner’s share for Hansen would be virtually the same because the West Virginia Derby awards a $150,000 bonus if the winner already has won a Grade 1 race, which Hansen did last year in taking the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile en route to being voted 2-year-old champion. That means both races would be worth roughly $600,000 to his connections in case of a victory.

“Obviously there’s a lot of money involved there,” said Maker.

Maker added that Kendall Hansen, majority owner in the colt, had not yet “completely” agreed to running at Mountaineer but that he was relatively sure “that’s the way we’re going.”

Entries for the Haskell will be taken Thursday. Paynter and Dullahan are the likely favorites, with other possible starters including Nonios and Stealcase.

Maker said that Hansen, an easy winner of the June 30 Iowa Derby in his last start, will breeze again next Tuesday at Trackside, then ship to Mountaineer the day before the race.