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West Virginia Derby winner's next stop yet to be determined
Macho Macho returned Sunday to Saratoga following his victory in the $750,000 West Virginia Derby the previous day in excellent shape, but his next race has yet to be decided, trainer Steve Asmussen said Monday morning.
Asmussen, having deputized Darren Fleming, watched from Saratoga when his runners swept the two richest races on the Saturday program at Mountaineer Park in Chester, W.Va. He also won the $200,000 Governor’s Stakes with Tapizar.
“I’m extremely pleased with how both horses came back,” said Asmussen. “They’ll go back to the track in the next couple of days, and we’ll try to decide off their training where to run them next.”
Corey Nakatani, in from Del Mar, was aboard both Asmussen winners, and both got great trips. Tapizar, an odds-on choice making his first start in nearly five months, led all the way in the 1 1/16-mile Governor’s, pulling away late to win by 4 1/2 lengths. Macho Macho, the 9-2 second choice in the 1 1/8-mile West Virginia Derby, tracked a pair of front-runners, including odds-on Hansen, before outfinishing Bourbon Courage and Called to Serve in the final furlong.
Macho Macho earned a 79 Beyer Speed Figure in posting his first stakes victory while allowing Asmussen to extend his own record of West Virginia Derby wins to four. Tapizar got a 101 Beyer.
Meanwhile, owner Kendall Hansen said Monday he was very disappointed with the fourth-place finish from his stable star, Hansen, but said the defeat was partly accountable to the fact the colt was hounded from the start by longshot Hero of Order. Hansen the colt was permitted to race with a streak of blue painted in his tail and was the center of attention in prerace discussions.
“It’s pretty embarrassing when you go sticking your neck out and you don’t get the job done,” said Hansen.
Hansen the colt has returned to the Trackside training center in Louisville, Ky., for trainer Mike Maker, and “is 90 percent” to run next in the 1 1/4-mile Travers Stakes on Aug. 25 at Saratoga, said the owner.
“We haven’t given up on the distance,” said Hansen. “If not the Travers,” he added, possibilities included the Smarty Jones at Parx and the Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park.
Hansen is a minority owner in Blueeyesintherein, who was scratched early Saturday after coming up lame as the even-money program favorite for the Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies. The good news, said Hansen, is that the filly did not appear to be unsound Sunday, although she has been transported from Mountaineer to a Lexington, Ky., equine clinic for further diagnostics. Trainer Garry Simms was unavailable for further comment Monday.
All in all, it was a bummer of a trip to West Virginia for Hansen, Simms, and company. Simms also sent out the 2-5 favorite in the Juvenile, Circle Unbroken, who was beaten a half-length by Maybe So. Hansen also has a minority share in Circle Unbroken.
Maybe So, trained by Al Stall Jr., earned a 95 Beyer. The colt returned to Keeneland after the race.
Handle well short of record
All-sources handle on the nine-race Saturday card, all of them stakes, was nearly $2.1 million, well short of the record $3.6 million bet in 2009 when Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird finished third in the West Virginia Derby before a crowd of 21,218. Mountaineer did not release attendance for Saturday, although it seemed well short of the 2009 figure. General admission is free at the track.
In the West Virginia Derby show pool, $196,232 of the $237,098 total was bet on Hansen, resulting in respective show payoffs of $11, $15.40, and $23 on the first three finishers.
Correction: An earler version of this article misstated the Beyer Speed Figure earned by Macho Macho in his West Virginia Derby victory.
BREAKING PAYNTER NEWS: My horse "Called to Serve" was scheduled to take a flight back to California today with Paynter. I was told this morning that the flight was being cancelled as Paynter spiked another temperature and had to be placed back on medication. I was told that every time they remove the medication, his temperature spikes again which is not a good sign. This obviously effects his preparation for his next race.
Nakatani...the best rider in america today...Wake up California trainers!!!!!
Fractions were average at best. These 3 year olds aren't showing the progress needed to compete with the top 3's Neck N Neck and Paynter should be the best two going forward. Don't like Alpha going forward. Hansen doesn't seem to like any kind of company up front. So anyone could press him and he folds. He's gotta have a solo lead to be effective. Was expecting that he'd get rated but those fractions were average, so where does that leave him? Try the Pa Derby or better yet the Smarty Jones. He'd probably get beat in the Indiana, which usually features a good weight carrying colt, who would do well as a 4 year old going long. Hansen could still be shorted up, and run in the 7f Vosburgh.
Another Derby contender who succumbed to the grueling season which knocked out. IHA, Bode, CC, WTDW, Dullahan hasn't run well since, Gemologist, Betting against Alpha in the Travers.
Sometimes speed horses don't run the same if you try to rate them too hard. I thought Mike Smith did okay and Hansen did not lose the West Virginia by much. The main thing challenge for Hansen connections is trying to predict what Paynter will do in the Travers and whether they are brave enough to challenge Hansen for the front or rate. Hopefully you are right and no one will want to lose the Travers by dueling with Hansen early.
Hey Doc, maybe if you asked the other jockey's to be nice to your horse and just let him lope along on the lead uncontested, and maybe wait til he kicks for home about 5 lengths clear before they start to make their run, then maybe we'll see the true champion Hansen that we keep hearing about.
Marty McGee, someone with apparent knowledge is saying flatly, connections have decided to run Hansen in the King's Bishop'. can you knock down or confirm with Dr.Hansen ?
Gotta feel really bad for these horses. This pill-pusher could screw up a wet dream...