02/16/2012 2:12PM

Turfway: Hansen's big brother Tapanna gets stakes shot in Dust Commander


There are plenty of similarities among Hansen and his full older brother, Tapanna – except for the Eclipse Award, of course. The most important traits in common are the identical pedigrees and still-to-be-determined levels of talent, although it’s obvious that Hansen, as the 2-year-old champion of 2011, always will have a greater claim to fame.

One of the serendipitous overlaps among the brothers is that Tapanna, now 4, won a Turfway Park maiden race on the same Sept. 24 program during which Hansen revealed himself as a potential champion by dominating the Kentucky Cup Juvenile. Tapanna looked good that day, too, winning by 2 1/4 lengths before having his picture taken with the same connections as those of his little brother, owner-breeder Kendall Hansen and trainer Mike Maker.

Tapanna, with Victor Lebron to ride, will make his stakes debut Saturday at Turfway as one of 12 older horses in the $50,000 Dust Commander Stakes at a mile on Polytrack.

“We’ve always thought a lot of Tapanna,” said Maker, who, even in absentia while working primarily in Florida this winter, has been the dominant trainer in Kentucky since racing shifted to Turfway in Florence, Ky., in early December. “He’s run a couple of big ones."

Tapanna is still eligible for a second allowance condition. He won a first-level allowance in mid-December for his second mid-80s Beyer Speed Figure, which makes him a decent fit in the Dust Commander.

Still, a win by Tapanna would qualify as an upset if only for the fact the race drew the likes of Proceed Bee. From 29 career starts, and on a variety of surfaces, Proceed Bee has knocked out nearly $680,000 in earnings, credentials that make him a valid favorite in this spot.

This will be the 30th running of the Dust Commander, which is named for the 1970 Kentucky Derby winner. The 2011 winner was Max Silverhammer, with John McKee riding for Billy Denzik.

The Dust Commander goes as the 10th of 11 races on a Saturday matinee that starts at 1:10 p.m. Eastern.