This weekend’s Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland Racetrack will be the final Derby prep race for 2011 Breeder’s Cup Juvenile winner, Hansen. Hansen has remained among the favorites for the Kentucky Derby, winning four of his five career starts.
Twelve other three-year-olds will start along with Hansen, who is the prohibitive favorite, posting 6-5 odds as of this writing. His main competition will come in the form of the Dale Romans trained Dullahan, who is currently ranked, 17th among Kentucky Derby contenders by HorseRacingNation.com. Other thoroughbreds of note include Scatman, Howe Great, and Hero of Order, who is fresh off a win in the Louisiana Derby. Hansen rebounded nicely from a stumble in the Holy Bull Stakes to win his last time out in the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct. Previous to the Gotham Stakes, Hansen was a horse that liked to jump out front and stay there. Trainer Michael Maker elected to pull him back a bit in the Gotham and took his blinkers off for the first time. His prize thoroughbred responded by keeping pace just behind the leaders and then pulling away to win. Race fans and analysts will be looking to see if that race was a fluke or if Hansen has the ability to run behind the pacesetters and close out.
Hansen and jockey Ramon Dominguez are hoping to avoid the upsets that other favorites have suffered in the past couple weeks in their final Derby preps. In the Florida Derby, despite rallying late, Union Rags finished a disappointing third and the next day in the Louisiana Derby at Fairgrounds Park, Hero of Order upset Mark Valeski, as a 109-1 longshot. Last weekend saw no relief for the favorites as I’ll Have Another upset Creative Cause in the Santa Anita Derby. The top horses in the Wood Memorial didn’t disappoint their fans, as Gemologist and Alpha battled at the wire, with Gemologist taking home the win by a neck.
The 138th running of the Kentucky Derby is shaping up to be one of the most exciting in years. The upsets in April will likely have bettors second-guessing themselves right up to the wagering window! If you would like to be at Churchill Downs to see the action yourself, there is still time to buy your tickets. Simply visit DerbyDeals.com or call one of their friendly sales people at 877-DERBYKY and get all the information you need, so you can plan your trip to Louisville for one of the greatest events in sports.