Colorful colt leads West Virginia Derby field
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Hansen's owner hopes everyone in the West Virginia Derby gets a good, long look at their colt's blue-tipped tail.
The speedy white 3-year-old, who will run with the tip of his tail dyed blue, is the 3-5 choice in a field of 10 for the $750,000 Grade 2 event on Saturday at Mountaineer Racetrack.
“We're just doing it for fun,” owner Dr. Kendall Hansen said, “and for some of Hansen's younger fans and people who think they are young.”
Hansen had wanted to previously run last year's juvenile champion with a dyed blue tail — the colt is nearly pure white — but stewards in New York and Kentucky denied the request. Hansen's tail was dyed blue prior to the Blue Grass Stakes at Kenneland Race Course, but the dye was removed when stewards indicated it could cause the colt to be scratched.
Finally, the officials in West Virginia said yes.
“I'm a little sad that we never got to pull it off,” Hansen said. “I think everybody wouldn't mind seeing it once, whether you like it or not.”
Gimmick aside, there is a lot at stake. An additional bonus of $150,000 will be paid to any horse with a Grade 1 victory that wins the West Virginia Derby. Because Hansen took the G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile last year, a victory would push his winning purse to close to $600,000, or what the winner earns in million dollar-races such as the Preakness, the Belmont and the Haskell Invitational.
Hansen's top challengers will be Long Branch runner-up Macho Macho (6-1), trained by three-time West Virginia Derby winner Steve Asmussen, and Grade 3 Pegasus Stakes winner Le Bernardin (6-1), trained by Kiaran McLaughlin.
“We respect Hansen a lot, and we hope things go our way,” McLaughlin said. “If we get second or third money, we would take that and move along.”
In his most recent start, Hansen won the Grade 3 Iowa Derby by 10 lengths at odds of 1-9 on June 30. Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, third in the '09 West Virginia Derby aboard Mine That Bird, replaces regular rider Ramon Dominguez, who has commitments at Saratoga.
Hansen is 0 for 2 at 11⁄8 mile or longer, including a ninth-place finish in this year's Kentucky Derby.
“We hope the sprinter (Bourbon Courage) goes with Hansen, and we lay third or fourth,” McLaughlin said. “If they hook up and it hurts their chances, we can pick up the pieces.”
Hansen admitted that “on paper” his horse shouldn't be able to get a 1¼ mile — the West Virginia Derby is 11⁄8 mile. Critics have said Hansen's connections are dodging the top 3-year-olds.
“It upsets me,” Hansen said. “But … do I want to run against Bodemeister and Paynter every month? No. But I want to run against them (eventually) to prove I'm better. We are picking our spots and doing what's best for the horse. By the end of it all, fans will see what he can do.”
The field includes an 0-for-8 maiden (Z Camelot); a son of Sharp Humor who's lost four in a row by a combined 48¾ lengths since winning the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at odds of 109-1 (Hero of Order), a son of Macho Uno who's 1 for 10 lifetime and lost to Hansen by 13½ lengths in his most recent start (Macho Bull) and an allowance winner from Belmont (Penn's Grant).
In light of such a watered-down field, Hansen's connections are using Saturday as a prep race for the Grade I Travers Stakes on Aug. 25 at Saratoga.
“It is,” Hansen said, “somewhat of a workout for the Travers.”
John Grupp is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7930.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Martin’s homer rescues Pirates in 4-2 victory over Brewers
- Beaver footprints found along Allegheny River bank, not gator
- Steelers notebook: Ravens DL fined for hit on Roethlisberger
- Moore hopes to see red (zone) in Steelers debut
- City’s plan for Strip flummoxes vendors
- Finally healthy, Letang looking to make his presence felt as a leader
- Inside the glass: Johnston’s opening practice grueling
- Sears to close store at Century III Mall in West Mifflin
- Predictions are for lots of brilliant color this autumn
- Local groups hope NFL lends support
- Pitt meets Iowa’s muscle