The last time out for Hansen wasn’t so great by the standard that the Eclipse Award winning thoroughbred had set for himself. In the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream he stumbled out of the gate on a wet track and despite leading for much of the race, seemed to tire at the end and finished 1st to Algorithms. Some say that the adrenaline and confusion in the stumble caused him to expend too much energy running to the front of the field, a place Hansen had been in every race he ran as a two-year-old. The Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct was a chance for Hansen to rebound and he did not disappoint.
Trainer Michael Maker took the blinkers off of Hansen for the first time and jockey Ramon Dominguez steadied the colt as he ran just behind the leader instead of bolting right to the front of the pack. Starting out of the 12th position of a 13 horse field, Hansen broke nicely out of the gate and was part of four wide racing around the clubhouse turn, settling into third place down the front stretch behind King and Crusader and Maan. At the half mile mark, Hansen had moved into second and My Adonis trailed him as Maan started fading. At the turn, Hansen started making a move, rolling past King and Crusader with My Adonis charging with him. Down the stretch Hansen had no match as he pulled away to a three length victory ahead of My Adonis and Finnegan’s Wake. Dr. Kendall Hansen’s gray colt posted a time of 1:43.84 on a track listed as good.
This performance will certainly put Hansen back in the talk, along with Union Rags, as one of the horses to beat when the racing world descends on Churchill Downs in May. Dominguez was full of praise for Hansen following the $400,000 race; “I know exactly the reason he didn’t perform better in the Holy Bull,” Dominguez said. “He was just too hard on himself. I was pretty optimistic he would change. I never dreamed he could change to this degree in the matter of one race.” . Hansen’s next contest will likely be the Wood Memorial on April 7th, once again at Aqueduct. He is sure to be the favorite in what will be his last race before the Kentucky Derby.