06/28/2012 12:52PM

Prairie Meadows: Maker prefers Iowa Derby for Hansen's first start since Kentucky Derby

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Barbara D. Livingston
Hansen could have run for a bigger purse in the Red Legend at Charles Town, but would have had to cut back from 1 1/4 miles to seven furlongs.

ALTOONA, Iowa -- Wednesday afternoon’s arrival of 2011 champion 2-year-old colt Hansen marked the first time a former Eclipse Award winner had stepped foot on the grounds here at Prairie Meadows since Caressing in June 2002. Along with a dozen quality runners pointed to other Iowa Festival of Racing stakes, Hansen flew in to contest Saturday night’s Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile $250,000 Iowa Derby and, in the process, get his stellar career back on track.

Since the May 5 Kentucky Derby in which he encountered some early trouble after establishing a forward position and ended up ninth, Hansen returned to the quiet confines of the Churchill Downs Trackside Training Center and chilled out. His trainer Mike Maker said “We thought it was a good time to freshen up and look forward to a summer campaign.” During the last week of May, Hansen resumed his usual routine, which includes a weekly five-furlong breeze and his preparation has gone smoothly.

[PRAIRIE MEADOWS: Get PPs and watch Saturday’s full card live]

Maker, who also shipped in defending champ Headache for the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap, had entered Hansen for Saturday’s seven-furlong, $400,000 Red Legend Stakes at Charles Town but opted to bring his attractive roan champ to Iowa because “we didn’t want to turn all the way back to a sprint distance.”

Eclipse Award-winning jockey Ramon Dominguez, Hansen’s regular pilot, flies in from New York to retain the mount.

A solid quartet of 3-year-olds, including Louisiana Derby winner Hero of Order and the local hero Alsvid, will try to hand Hansen a three-race losing streak.

Hero of Order returns to dirt for the first time since his 109-1 Louisiana Derby upset after two subpar efforts on Polytrack and a dull May 26 try on Arlington’s turf course. Jockey Ken Tohill, just eight wins shy of his 3,000th career win, takes the call.

Alsvid, who trained outstandingly as an unraced 2-year-old here, has proved his affinity for the surface this season with authoritative displays in the April 21 Golden Circle and the June 2 Prairie Mile. Trained by Chris Hartman, Alsvid, under jockey Chris Landeros, seeks to become the first to sweep Prairie Meadows’s trio of open stakes for 3-year-olds.

Hero of Order’s stablemate Macho Bull and the deep closing Steve Asmussen trainee Truetap complete the Iowa Derby lineup.

William Caple More than 1 year ago
Nice run for Hansen. It's been awhile since he competed and it was a nice comeback. I'm hoping he enters the Travers Stakes. That should be a top-notch field! derbydeals.com
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
Hansen is certainly a striking-looking horse. It's nice to have him back, after the concern over his blood work test. The Kentucky Derby was not his race, but this race is one he can totally win. Another stone chalk, not something I normally bet with frequency. Therefore, I will be looking at the exotics for value. If Hero of Order (winner of the Louisiana Derby) is a long shot, that's a possibility, especially being back on dirt. He seems to like running on dirt. Sure, HOO is a dicey bet because he is so inconsistent, but that's what is going to make his price inviting as well. Alsvid has to be included in the exotics, but he's likely not to bring a price either. Truetap might have an inviting price and worth a look. It's an interesting race. Good luck to all.
Lance Schuler More than 1 year ago
If you had a horse that could beat a field in a 300k race, wouldn't you? That's alot of money for an easy win.
MGropenSDREADER More than 1 year ago
Saw a Hansen T-shirt advertised bearing the logo, "The Great White Hope." Here's a field he can beat--I think.
Gary Hansen More than 1 year ago
Why Iowa ....At least 1-5 favorite...Easy Paycheck
N Lad More than 1 year ago
Dismiss Alsvid at your peril.