08/02/2012 1:42PM

West Virginia Derby: Hansen hopes to punch ticket to Travers

Barbara D. Livingston
A win in the West Virginia Derby would give Hansen his sixth in nine starts and could propel him to the Travers.

CHESTER, W.Va. – Studious racing fans may cringe at tales of a tail, but isn’t there room for fun in this game anymore? Yes, Kendall Hansen sending over his champion colt with a blue streak in his tail may seem absurd, but when it comes to the business of running around a racetrack, suddenly all the talk about Hansen turns very serious.

Both Hansens have been denied before: the man in getting the tail painted by New York and Kentucky racing authorities, and the colt by his opposition in the Holy Bull, Blue Grass, and Kentucky Derby. But the man is a cinch to finally get his way Saturday when the Grade 2, $750,000 West Virginia Derby is run for the 43rd time at Mountaineer Racetrack, and many horseplayers will think the same of the speedy near-white colt when trainer Mike Maker sends him out against nine other 3-year-olds in the 1 1/8-mile fixture.

“Mike thinks the horse is better than he’s ever been going into any race, so I’m excited about that,” said Hansen, a northern Kentucky doctor who is a pain-management specialist.

Aside perhaps from the spectacle of Hansen having his tail painted blue, for which West Virginia officials have granted permission, the most talked-about topic going into this race is whether Hansen can become a bonafide candidate for the Aug. 25 Travers Stakes at Saratoga by winning for the sixth time in nine starts. Since incurring three losses after being named a champion last year at 2, Hansen has not often been included in discussions about the best 3-year-olds of 2012.

In his only race since a 10 1/4-length defeat in the May 5 Kentucky Derby, Hansen faced very soft opposition in easily winning the June 30 Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows. He was 1-10 in Iowa, and although he won’t be so heavily backed Saturday, he still will be odds-on, having been pegged as the 3-5 choice on the Mountaineer morning line.

“It would be nice to get another building race under Hansen and then hopefully run him 100 percent in the Travers and see if we can beat the other 3-year-olds there that everybody is talking about,” said Hansen, who is majority owner in the colt, with groups headed by Harvey Diamond and Jimmy Shircliff as partners.

A major enticement for running Hansen in the West Virginia Derby was the fact that the colt can earn a $150,000 bonus in addition to the winner’s share which will be nearly $450,000. Race conditions provide for the bonus going to a horse with a prior Grade 1 win, and as the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last fall, Hansen is the only horse in the field eligible for it.

Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith has picked up the mount on Hansen from regular rider Ramon Dominguez, who is otherwise committed Saturday at Saratoga. Whether Dominguez might get back aboard Hansen for a run in the Travers is questionable, considering Dominguez won the Jim Dandy last week aboard Alpha, cementing his status as one of the Travers favorites.

Alpha is based in New York with owner Darley Stable and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who also happen to have one of the prime challengers to Hansen in the West Virginia Derby in Le Bernardin, winner of the Grade 3 Pegasus last out. Mike Luzzi has a return call.

“Hansen is awfully tough, and I don’t want to get into a situation where we lose a chance for a nice part of the purse by going out there too fast to challenge him,” said McLaughlin. “So the tactical part, that’s kind of tricky. I’ll just let Mike try to make those tough decisions.”

If Le Bernardin doesn’t take an early fight to Hansen, then perhaps Bourbon Courage will. A phenom of sorts last winter at Fair Grounds, where he earned Beyer Speed Figures of 103 and 101 in starting his career with two sprints for trainer Kellyn Gorder, Bourbon Courage will be making his first start beyond a mile when ridden by Deshawn Parker, the perennial leading jockey at Mountaineer.

Other notables in the cast include Macho Macho, stakes placed in his last two starts, and Called to Serve, a two-time winner on the Southern California circuit, a dominant producer of 3-year-old performers so far this year.

Rounding out the lineup are Macho Bull, Hero of Order, Z Camelot, Morgan’s Guerilla, and Penn’s Grant.

The West Virginia Derby is carded as the eighth of nine races on an outstanding all-stakes program, with purses totaling $1.65 million. Lured by these huge purses, many of the top jockeys in North America will be in for the day, led by Smith, Calvin Borel, Corey Nakatani, and a number of others.

Mountaineer usually conducts racing in the evenings, but first post Saturday is 2 p.m. Eastern, with the feature going at 5:45. Live television coverage is being provided on a one-hour broadcast (5-6) by Fox Sports regional networks.

The Saturday weather forecast calls for mostly sunny skies and high temperature around 90.


Jade Sword More than 1 year ago
Hansen the horse is fine, but his owner shows the downside of vanity. If the blue tail wasn't a give-away, just ask Mike Smith what he thinks about the instruction he was given to be upfront. The image of the blue tail would only work upfront, wouldn't it Kendall? I'm not complaining. I had the first two horses. But I do feel sorry for that very fine horse.
Jim Fields More than 1 year ago
Hansen the horse and Hansen the doc are good for a mundane racing world!!!
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Colt Hansen seen this morning at Mouseketeer Zoo. His tail blue, he was reported as blushing profusely.
Patricia Doyle More than 1 year ago
Dr. Hansen is not in the equation, The problem is, will Hansen go the distance?
Douglas Rutherford More than 1 year ago
We all know what Hansen is capable of . So as long as yu believe : that is all that should matter . Dont worry about what others think or believe . You are the only person that is accountable for yourself . So , for those that believe in Hansen : keep it up .
William Tracy More than 1 year ago
I beleive hes a bum....cant break top 3 in West Va....1-9 to 4-5 shots aint betting....I love em when that dont have a snowballs chance...not hitting the trifecta is icinging on my ticket....Emma's Encore winning her first grade 1 at Saratoga { $12.40 } against a 4-5 shot....the same filly she beat at 1-9 a few weeks ago.....{ 39-1 } THATS CALLED TRIP HANDICAPPING
William Tracy More than 1 year ago
watch viedo replays...best way to handicap....film dont lie....when you lose you lose, might as well learn something from it....always remember...eat with your betting money, never bet with your eating money....and you can beat a race, but you cant beat the races
Bsb Jaws More than 1 year ago
Thats Bull. I 've been beating the races for 30 yrs. Do you know any other cliches.
Douglas Rutherford More than 1 year ago
WHY are any of you viewers EVEN reading what ( Paul _ Toun ) has to comment on IF BY CHANCE this person gets the best of you . I read 1 comment o his : then just decided to read No More of his omments reguarding anything . If you desire to live in a Sinful way : then keep on reading his comments . As living right - we are to turn the other cheek . To be honest with you all - you people are ONLY adding fuel to his desire . If you just IGNORE this person : without comments in reply - you will find yourselk in a better mood . Just a thought . Just stop commenting towards his reply or comment ! In order to Get rid of the Spider : Get ride of the Spiderweb
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
* in order to get rid of the spider..get rid of the spider web* whoever thought Horse Players had the kind of *Wisdom* that you continue to see on this site VQ
Tiny Montgomery More than 1 year ago
Dude we don't want to hear you preach or your philosophy. We just want to hear about those steam horses you got coming this weekend, you know the ones from the O'Neill and Sadler barns you've been alluding to.
JT_OnTheSide More than 1 year ago
Warning to anyone that is reading my comments and thinking it would be fun to continue to read below. It's pretty bad down there - a lot of idiocy. Read at own risk!!! Hopefully I can save 10 minutes of your life that you will never get back.
Paul_Tuon More than 1 year ago
Did you loose your way to the church? After all, this website is full of time people looking to get rid of their unused time. Get a grip you big time idiot!
John More than 1 year ago
Why do so many people who post on this site spell lose "loose" and losing "looseing"?
Bsb Jaws More than 1 year ago
Forgot to mention Black Caviar is a BSB 1
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Hey B. Too bad you on the west coast. Maybe after I do barn checks here and am done meeting with vets and coordinating training sessions and sets and such we could chit chat. You obviously have something to offer. I find it rude for you however to politic for Hansen getting a different trainer than he currently has. Remember my friend, greed is a sin. Just because Hansen will probably be next years Shackleford doesn't give anybody the right to stab Mr.Maker in the back to bring him out west.
Paul_Tuon More than 1 year ago
A sreen scroller is at your disposable! Thanks!
Paul_Tuon More than 1 year ago
Like it or not (especially the Dr Hansen/Hansen haters), it's the "Hansens Show" this weekend. I'm going to make a tribute to the Hansens--mainly the horse Hansen. This may make me public enemy #1 since it will probably upset a lot of people who can't stand Dr Hansen's silly antics becasue my tribute of the horse Hansen resembles the silly antics that Dr Hansen shows and it definitely will give those people a good amount of doses of that sillyness. This may seems like an "in your face-"like attemp to anger the Dr Hansen/Hansen haters but my motive is quite the opposite. My motive is to make it fun and not too serious, just like Dr Hansen is doing--make it fun while he can because he may not have the kind of horse he'd got in Hansen. That's exactly what I'm trying to do -- having fun -- albeit at the expense of other people, especially Churchill Downs and the Dr Hansen/Hansen haters. I did a tribute to the horse Hansen this past spring leading up to the Kentucky Derby for viewers of my website: http://www.TheStretchFREAK.com So instead of writing a new one, I'm gonna just copy and paste that tribute in its entirety without modification. This article is longer than the limit allowed by DRF and therefore, I have to break it into pieces to get all of the content in its entirety. I ask that you don't make any comment between segments but you can do so (if desire) at the end of the last segment so that I can have all of the content in its entirety in an orderly fashion without some comments in between. To Dr Hansen, thanks for the fun you provide and you're not alone in being an egotistical idiot. You can add my name to that list also. I'll be proud to be on that list any day of the week. If painting the tail of a horse is "egotistical idiot" and it's the worse thing that anyone has done to a horse, I'll take that any day of the week. If you feel like kneeling down and start kissing the dirt in the Mountaineer Park winner circle or any other track's winner circle, go ahead and do it. However, you may disgust a lot of people but not me. Heck, you already disgust lots of people already and doing it again is not going to increase or decrease your popularity among your haters. To Dr Hansen/Hansen haters, I respectfully say, lighten up!!! [Continueing below ....]
Sam Shelby More than 1 year ago
Dude, if you're going to insult people do it with statements that make sense and with proper spelling. I'm positive they teach remedial english somewhere in your area.
TEDK215 More than 1 year ago
who do u like to " win period" in the WVD Sam?
Sam Shelby More than 1 year ago
I think I'll humbly pass on the guarantees. But I think I like Hansen. At least, you dont need remedial english.
Sam Shelby More than 1 year ago
Nah, I'll make a guarantee. If I actually went to the ponies today and played the WVD I would figure out some way to totally f#@% it up.
TEDK215 More than 1 year ago
wow sam,you really should go back and try the 5000 claimers again. you might just get lucky picking the older horses!