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West Virginia Derby: Macho Macho gives Asmussen fourth West Virginia Derby; Hansen finishes fourth
CHESTER, W.Va. – Macho Macho gave trainer Steve Asmussen a record fourth victory in the $750,000 West Virginia Derby when taking full advantage of a great trip to post a mild upset Saturday in the 43rd running of the Mountaineer Park showcase.
Hansen, the 3-5 favorite who dominated pre-race speculation for the Grade 2 event with his tail painted blue and vaunted reputation as a speedy 2-year-old champion, took sustained pressure from longshot Hero of Order from the start and was never able to shake clear. He finished fourth after being passed inside the eighth pole not only by Macho Macho, who got first jump, but by Bourbon Courage and Called to Serve, the eventual second- and third-place finishers.
With Corey Nakatani aboard, Macho Macho settled into a very comfortable trip alone in third, a few lengths behind those dueling leaders.
“I found myself in the catbird’s spot, biding my time,” said Nakatani. “It worked out great.”
Macho Macho, a gray colt owned by Jerry Durant, returned $11.40 as second choice after finishing the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:49.98 over a fast track. Bourbon Courage was a half-length behind the winner, with Called to Serve (12-1) another half-length behind him. Hansen, ridden by Mike Smith, was another 1 1/4 lengths back in the field of nine 3-year-olds.
“We got pressured all the way,” said Smith. “I guess it just wasn’t his day.”
Asmussen watched the race from Saratoga, instead sending assistant Darren Fleming in his place. Prior West Virginia wins for Asmussen came with Real Dandy (2005), Zanjero (2007), and Soul Warrior (2009).
Much of the show pool was wagered on Hansen, leading to respective show payoffs of $11, $23.40, and $15 on the top three finishers. In the immediate race aftermath, there were no reports of any gamblers jumping off the nearby East Liverpool Bridge.
Macho Macho, a Kentucky-bred by Macho Uno, was coming off a second-place finish in the July 8 Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth Park. The win was his third in seven overall starts and his first in a stakes. He earned $451,500, more than quadrupling his bankroll to $546,214.
“This colt is really coming around, and honestly, we didn’t know he would be this good,” said Fleming, adding the colt was to van back to Asmussen at Saratoga.
On a hot, humid afternoon, Hansen went in fractions of 24.33, 47.33 and 1:11.23 when racing outside of Hero of Order, a 37-1 shot famous for winning the Louisiana Derby fourth months ago at 109-1. That duel took a clear toll, as Macho Macho came calling on the outside, Bourbon Courage on the rail, and Called to Serve farthest outside.
“Corey’s horse just had a little more,” said Deshawn Parker, the standout local jockey who rode Bourbon Courage, the 5-1 third choice. “He gave me every kick he can give me.”
Hansen was the only horse in the race eligible for a $150,000 bonus by virtue of having won a Grade 1 race, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last fall. The other major disappointment in the race was Le Bernardin, the Pegasus Stakes winner who finished last with no mishap at 8-1.
The $2 perfecta (4-8) paid $64.40; the $1 trifecta (4-8-6) returned $188.30; and the 10-cent superfecta (4-8-6-9) was worth $44.63.
* Smith and Mike Maker, the trainer of Hansen, got a small measure of redemption by teaming with favored Major Marvel ($7) to win the final race of the all-stakes Saturday card, the $100,000 West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker’s Cup.
Major Marvel, ridden by Mike Smith, finished the mile and 70-yard distance in 1:37.21 over a firm course, setting a stakes mark while also lowering the turf course mark set just a few hours earlier by Frontside in the President’s Cup.
Tonto Fontenot was second at 6-1, while Sneakin Thru was third at 55-1 in a field of 11 older horses.
Just watched this race for the first time - how many times is Mike Smith going to lose a big race this year? Just an absolutely stupid ride on Hansen. Based on this pitiful ride, I can't blame Hansen's connections for taking a shot at the Travers. He had no business going the second quarter in 23 seconds. Let Hero of Order run on, and Hansen wins the race. Please, please, please - no more Mike Smith.
Got to give Dr.Hansen credit for coming into this forum several times and giving his thoughts and responding to ours,in an extremely cordial way. Stand up guy.
So now Doc H. says in Marty McGee article "It's 90 % Hansen will run in the Travers. Haven't given up on the distance. Other possibilities are Smarty Jones or Indiana Derby.' no mention of King's Bishop. who knows.
Bob Baffert just tweeted, "Paynter doing well. Won't ship to Saratoga until next week.' Altho BB recently said they might ship Paynter this past Weekend, if they are shipping him next week,one assumes he will be running. Unless this is a "holding' comment meaning they are not entirely sure yet.
Time to try Hasen on the turf. Also, anyone else thinking he might be more of a miler-type than a 9+f horse?
So Doc,... are you still out there? You've been awfully quiet lately!
Hansen will not show for the Kings' Bishop.
i hate when people say that Hansen has been running in garbage races his last couple outings. Since when is 750k a garbage race? i bet not one person here has ever had a horse in a race this big.
H&H Hansen and Hard Spun. Connections: Hard Spun: owned by outspoken owner Rick Porter of Fox Hill Farms, trained by high percentage trainer Larry Jones. Hansen: owned by outspoken owner Dr. Kendall Jackson, trained by high percentage trainer Mike Maker. Pedigree: Hard Spun: by Danzig, bred to run on any surface including slop Hansen: by Tapit, bred to run on any surface including slop Maiden race Hard Spun: won for fun sprinting wire to wire by over 8L Hansen: won for fun sprinting wire to wire by over 10L First 2 turn race Hard Spun: won for fun in a lesser stakes race wire to wire by over 6L Hansen: won for fun in a lesser stakes race wire to wire by over 10L First time trying to rate Hard Spun: in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn, disastrous off the board 4th Hansen: in the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct, rank to the first turn and wide throughout, but won impressively First time in a major stakes race Hard Spun: as second choice, upset high regarded favorite Twilight Meteor in the Blue Grass Stakes, now a G1 race Hansen: as second choice, upset high regarded favorite Union Rags in the G1 BC Juvenile First time racing too far Hard Spun: in the Belmont Stakes, finished midpack off the board Hansen: in the Kentucky Derby, finished midpack off the board First race after Triple Crown Hard Spun: failed to stay 9f in a rich $1mil race. Hansen: failed to stay 9f in a rich $750k race King's Bishop Hard Spun: won in gutsy fashion tracking from 2nd in a career best 107 BSF effort. Post time favorite among an average field of 3yo sprinters. Hansen: should be post time favorite among an average field of 3yo sprinters. Result to unfold. It would be foolish for Hansen's connection to not try the King's Bishop, a race so prestigious that you will gain far more prestige winning it than to finish second in the Travers. Hard Spun's connection did not waver even when it was annouced that Curlin would skip the race. Mike Maker knows it's the right race. In time Dr. Hansen will go along, I think after he consults his fiancee in Ukraine.
TIM WILKIN just tweeted Doc WILL run HANSEN in the TRAVERS. Mike maker was unhappy with Smith's ride, so a jockey change. Quick decision. Will he get his 7-1 odds or better and go all in ? certainly going all in with decision. Great confidence in his horse, or what ?