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West Virginia Derby: Le Bernardin faces big challenge at Mountaineer
By Marty McGee
Kiaran McLaughlin has a healthy respect for the Eclipse Award that Hansen earned last year as a 2-year-old. That’s a primary reason McLaughlin would accept something less than a victory Saturday when he sends out Le Bernardin against Hansen in the Grade 2, $750,000 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Park in Chester, W.Va.
“I’d like to take second money right now, if you’d guarantee it to me,” McLaughlin said.
Le Bernardin, a near-the-pace winner of the Grade 3 Pegasus under veteran jockey Mike Luzzi in his latest race at Monmouth Park, figures as second choice to an odds-on Hansen in a field of 10 3-year-olds entered in the 43rd running of the West Virginia Derby. Both colts are drawn toward the outside of the starting gate for the 1 1/8-mile race – Le Bernardin, with Luzzi back, got post 7, while Hansen, with Mike Smith to ride for the first time, got post 9 – making for some interesting speculation about early tactics.
“I’ll let Mike figure out what he wants to do after the break,” McLaughlin said. “On paper, I’d like to be forwardly placed – but I don’t want to be too forwardly placed, if you know what I mean. It looks like Hansen will go, and there’s a sprinter [Bourbon Courage] in there that could be up there, too. I just don’t want to get too involved early if it helps us at the end. I mean, Hansen is tough and if he wins easy, I don’t want to be the one chasing him all the way and end up, say, fifth.”
Le Bernardin is owned by the Darley Stable of Sheikh Mohammed, whose powerhouse Godolphin outfit teamed with McLaughlin to win the Jim Dandy at Saratoga last weekend with their homebred standout, Alpha. Le Bernardin, by Bernardini, has won 3 of 5 overall starts and has yet to face top-class competition, and McLaughlin is not inclined to run him back in the Aug. 25 Travers Stakes.
“You never know, but we do have Alpha for the Travers,” he said. “We’ve had the West Virginia race in mind for this colt for quite a while now. We’re just hoping he runs his race Saturday.”
After Hansen, the 3-5 favorite on the morning line, Mountaineer has pegged Le Bernardin as a 6-1 co-second choice with Macho Macho (post 4, Corey Nakatani). Trained by Steve Asmussen, who already has won the West Virginia Derby three times, Macho Macho most recently was a fast-closing second in the Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth.
Although there are no stable couplings, two trainers have two runners apiece in the race: Mike Maker runs Hansen and Morgan’s Guerilla, while Gennadi Dorochenko is scheduled to start Macho Bull and Hero of Order.
Two jockeys are named on double calls, but those were to be resolved Thursday morning. Eddie Martin Jr. was named on both Dorochenko horses, and Leandro Goncalves on Morgan’s Guerilla and California shipper Called to Serve.
The West Virginia Derby goes as the eighth of nine races on an all-stakes Saturday card, with purses totaling $1.65 million. First post 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 p.m.) by Fox Sports regional outlets, with Kenny Rice, Kurt Hoover, and Millie Ball handling the commentary.
I am pretty astonished by this horse; however I am a little skeptical how much dr Hansen cares about dr Hansen especially after he kissed the ground that horses drop waste on. I guess I am more of a mr and mrs moss kinda person who give the impression that their horse is the spotlight instead of sharing the moment. By the way paynter ran a 108 beyer in the Haskell and if you don't know... That's pretty good
I would really like to know why Hansen has so many nah sayers. He is the 2 yr. old Champion and Eclispe winner in 2011 and has gone on to do well in 2012. Most 2 yr. old runners who make it good fall apart as 3 yr. olds. In the Derby he was clipped from behind and came down sick after the race. No one gives any quarter for Hansen. This is a very nice colt, who is still growing and maturing. He is still out there running and thrilling fans when so many have drooped out with injury or illness probably never to return. There have been remarks about his lineage not being blue enough. Does anyone know who Zenyetta was bred back to? TAPIT. I hope Hansens romps to a win in W. Va. and continues to run and delight fans all over the country. Hansen proved himself as a 2 yr. old, He is a Champion and Eclipse winner. No other 3 yr. old can boost that. I just wish people would appreciate this colt and stop the hate messages, he does not deserve it. Dr. Hansen is having the time of his life, enjoying his home bred colt, shareing him with fans that wouldn't normalling get to see a Horse of his caliber run. This is good for racing and good for Hansen. As long as Hansen holds up he will run him. He plans races for Hansen in 2013 & possibly 2014 when others will have been retired and in the breeding shed. Much love, luck and good wishes to Hansen and his connections, "FOR LOVE OF THE GAME". I will be watching with my heart in my throut! Nothing is ever a lock in the game of racing but Hansen is always my #1.
I suggest people not overlook Macho Macho he has been beating graded horses in this race for years now and he is dead fit.
should be another victory for Hansen, but I'll give Bourbon Courage, and Called to Serve a small chance to upset, but a great chance for the exacta. Le Bernadin for third
to make money on this race,just bet a million dollar show bet on Hansen.
Ill Have ANother- Retired Union Rags- Retired Bodemeister- Whats really wrong with him? Gemologist- DUD (called that one before Derby) Dullahan- DUD (another one I pegged. Folks are still going to bet him) Take Charge Indy- Highly doubt he competes at a high level ever again. Hes not good. Secret Circle-??? El Padrino- Worse than Gemologist (and Gemologist is WEAK). Liaison- Like Dullahan, if you cant win on dirt, you cant be in this conversation. What you have left is this in no ranking order.... Hansen Bodemeister-(if hes right) Paynter-(which is mysteriously running a fever like Bodemeister did. Amazingly after a race like Bodemeister). Alpha- I like him but prior to his Jim Dandy, he ran rather weak Ragozins. I forecast McLaughlin avoiding Bode and Hansen at ALL costs. Creative Cause- Hes not done proving himself.
OVER RATED? Hey dippy, Hansen is certainly not over rated. Will he be over BET? NO! He will take all of the money because he deserves it. He runs true to his odds here. You want to make money? Bet another race. Im so sick of Hansen getting dogged. This is an extremely talented horse. After this 3 year old campaign(which unlike his peers, HE is still competing in), I would think he would become a 7-8 furlong specialist much like Shackleford did. Dr. Hansen is running him in light spots for big purses. BRILLIANT! It keeps the horse RACING and the paychecks COMING. What did all of the other races this year prove as of right now?
There will be nothing in the making come Saturday night when 9 other foes try to task the great white Hansen ! I am not saying anything that people already know - just some will not admit . Many people want to see Hansen fail "Only Due " to the owner of Dr Hansen . Thought I will not be wagering on this race : I do how-ever like Hansen to totally destroy his 9 other foes by as uch as 7 lengths or more : just on cruise control ! I would consider playing ( 9 - 4 ) ( 9 - 2,5,7,8 - 4 ) ( 9 - 2,5,7,8 - 2,5,7,8 - 4 ) ......................... 9 with 4 with all ............... 9 with all with 4 ................. 9 with all with all with 4 ......................... I dont play a race if I happen to like a chalk play of 3-5 or 4-5 or 7-5 ............. I just pass and find a race that has Value ! If a person really wanted to take a chance at longshots maybe coming in behind Hansen : then just take a Risk and go ( 9 with all with all ) $1 Trifecta $72.00 - ya just never know ! And if for those that DO NOT BELIEVE Hansn will Win but 'Good Enough' for 2nd place - then just go ( All with 9 with All ) and may luck be on your side
I like Le Bernardin here. If Hansen tires he can win this race. He's small in stature and can handle the turns and he has the pedigree to get the distance.
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