10/10/2012 4:04PM

Keeneland notes: Debut of Hansen's half-brother delayed by injury

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – A 2-year-old half-brother to the champion colt Hansen is scheduled to make his career debut Friday in the sixth race at Keeneland, but a recent minor injury most likely is going to lead to a scratch, according to the colt’s connections.

Gunderson, by Corinthian out of the mare Stormy Sunday, had a “little bit of filling” in his right front ankle Wednesday morning and thus would be delayed in making his first start, said Kendall Hansen, who bred and owns the bay colt.

Stormy Sunday also is the mare of Hansen (by Tapit), the nearly white 3-year-old who was the 2011 2-year-old champion and the runner-up as a heavy favorite here in the spring in the Blue Grass Stakes. Hansen, retired last month with a tendon injury, made quite a splash with racing fans, especially when Hansen, his owner and breeder, garnered considerable publicity with his attempts to have the colt’s tail painted blue.

Gunderson is listed at 12-1 on the Keeneland morning line for the six-furlong maiden race, but as Hansen tells it, “we thought he was about 50-50 to maybe smoke them if he were to be healthy [and start]. He sure is looking the part. He’s not as precocious as Hansen, but he’s beating all the horses he’s been working against.”

Gunderson is based at the High Pointe training center near LaGrange, Ky., with Grant Hofmans, who has remained in other capacities in the horse business since disbanding his public stable in 2008. Hofmans is the son of Southern California trainer David Hofmans, who on Monday notched his 1,000th career victory at Santa Anita.

Hansen said Hofmans believes the injury to Gunderson “is probably very minor” and that “hopefully he’ll be showing back up in the entries very soon.”

◗ Jockey David Cohen, riding his first full meet at Keeneland, has been suspended three racing days for his role in the disqualification of his mount, Taken by the Storm, from first to second in the sixth race Sunday. The penalty is scheduled to start Sunday.

In addition, chief steward Barbara Borden said Elvis Trujillo has been held blameless for his role in the disqualification of Really Sharp from second to sixth in the Bourbon Stakes, the seventh race Sunday.

◗ TVG again is a regular promotional sponsor of the Friday late pick four, which guarantees a $200,000 pool for the second of two 50-cent pick-four wagers (races 7-10). For the record, a Keeneland publicity official said TVG was not on the hook for any of the $55,766 deficit that stemmed from a $250,000 guarantee on an all-stakes pick four last Saturday, when just $194,234 was bet. Keeneland had the misfortune of starting that pick four on the same race when a 50-cent pick-five carryover drew $476,039 in fresh handle.

◗ Friday marks another College Scholarship Day at Keeneland, where a $1,000 scholarship will be raffled off after each of the 10 races. Nearly $500,000 in scholarships have been given away by the event co-sponsors, Keeneland and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Assocation, since its inception. The once-a-meet promotion regularly draws several thousand students.

◗ For hunch bets, University of Kentucky basketball fans could do worse than making a play on Big Blue Spirit in the fourth race Friday. Just a few hours later, the hero worship known as “Big Blue Madness” will take place at Rupp Arena in downtown Lexington in celebration of the school’s NCAA basketball tournament victory in April.

◗ The producers of the Mine That Bird film titled “50 to 1” are seeking more than 500 extras for upcoming scenes in Louisville, where filming will take place Friday through Oct. 21. Further information is available at www.extra-casting.com/2012/10

◗ Veteran trainer Phil Thomas Jr. has been hospitalized since Saturday in Louisville after suffering a severe injury at his Heritage Hills Farm when a pitchfork pierced his right calf. This is the second time in less than two years that Thomas, 61, has been subject to a lengthy hospital stay, having suffered a stroke in December 2010.