08/18/2012 4:00PM

Saratoga: Hansen's stamina questions make him Travers outsider

Barbara D. Livingston
Hansen comes into the Travers having to prove he can be effective going 1 1/4 miles.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Despite being a champion, one of just two Grade 1 winners in the prospective field, and the primary speed in the race, Hansen figures to be somewhat of a longshot in next Saturday’s $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga.

In addition to trying a 1 1/4-mile distance that many believe is beyond his reach, Hansen will be racing just three weeks after finishing fourth as the 3-5 favorite in the West Virginia Derby.

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On Saturday, Hansen completed his major preparations for the Travers by working five furlongs in 1:02.80 at the Trackside Training center in Louisville, Ky.

“The race didn’t take much out of him,” trainer Mike Maker said by phone. “He’s held his weight good considering he has a tendency to lose weight. His energy is high. If he’s not fit by now, he never will be. It was a maintenance breeze. He did it well within himself.”

Maker and owner Kendall Hansen believe the early pace proved to be Hansen’s undoing in the West Virginia Derby. He dueled outside of Hero of Order through fractions of 24.43 seconds, 47.33, and 1:11.23 before giving way inside the sixteenth pole. Hansen finished fourth, beaten 2 1/4 lengths by Macho Macho.

“They don’t have that saying pace makes the race for nothing,” Maker said. “The opening quarter cooked him.”

The distance may also have cooked Hansen. He faded to ninth in the Kentucky Derby, chasing hot early fractions and he has never won beyond 1 1/16 miles.

“He’s run a mile and a quarter before. It’s just that a bunch of horses ran quicker than he did,” Maker said. “Hopefully, we’ll run quicker than them this time.”

Hansen is scheduled to ship to Saratoga on Monday.

Entries will be made and post positions drawn for the Travers on Wednesday. The 10-horse field is expected to include Alpha, Atigun, Fast Falcon, Five Sixteen, Hansen, Liaison, Neck ‘N Neck, Stealcase, and Street Life.

Turbulent Descent preps for Ballerina

Turbulent Descent, last year’s Test winner, worked four furlongs in 48.04 seconds Saturday morning in company with Mildly Offensive. Turbulent Descent is preparing for the Grade 1 Ballerina on Friday, which will be her first start for trainer Todd Pletcher.

“Really nice,” Pletcher said of the work. “She seems like she’s sitting on go.”

Others expected for the Ballerina, a Win and You’re In race for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, include All Due Respect, Derwin’s Star, Island Bound, Nicole H, and possibly Sweet Cassiopeia, Winning Image, and Bold Affair.