Hansen Feeling Blue For The West Virginia Derby
The 43rd running of the West Virginia Derby will take place on Saturday August 4th at Mountaineer Park. The race is a mile and 1/8 with a total purse of $750,000. 2011’s two-year-old champion, Hansen will be taking part in what is likely his last contest before a probable run in the Travers Stakes at the end of August in Saratoga.
Hansen’s biggest obstacle in the race may be himself, as his competition is not likely to be as tough as what we saw over the weekend at the Jim Dandy Stakes and Haskell Invitational. Among those to possibly challenge him in the grade II affair is Hero of Order, Bob Baffert’s Blueskiesnrainbows, and Rousing Sermon. The challengers that Hansen may face are not the big story out of West Virginia, but rather, the color of his tail and who will be aboard trainer Michael Maker’s prize colt. Hansen’s owner, Dr. Kendall Hansen got approval from the West Virginia racing commission to dye the white colt’s tail blue for the race. Previously Dr. Hansen had dyed his champion’s tail blue for the Bluegrass Stakes on race day, but Maker had it washed out before the race when there were rumblings that the horse would be made ineligible because they did not receive permission. Hansen finished second that day and after the race Maker hinted that the distractions his horse faced may have played a factor. This time, all is well as the dye job is being done well before the race, and the blue tail is being linked to a couple of charities. Dr. Hansen has pledged one percent of his winnings from Saturday’s race to both the Make a Wish Foundation and a young race fan development program sponsored by the Thoroughbred Racing Fan Association out of New York.
Another storyline related to the colorful Hansen, is that he will be getting a new jockey for the West Virginia Derby. Victor Lebron saddled Hansen in his first two races and for the last six contests, including the Breeders’ Cup victory, Ramon Dominguez has been aboard. In those six races Dominguez and Hansen had three wins and two second place finishes. Dominguez had prior commitments for this weekend and decided to honor those, rather than make it to Mountaineer Park for the derby. Taking over for Dominguez will be Hall of Famer Mike Smith. Smith has won over 5,000 career races at 37 different North American race tracks. He also is no stranger to big wins as he has won the Kentucky Derby, and both the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, as well as fifteen Breeders’ Cup races. With 428 graded stakes victories under his belt, he’ll surely have his eyes on number 429, when he boards Hansen on Saturday.
- Hansen: Looking Forward To The 2012 Kentucky Derby
If you are interested in Hansen, take a look at this pre-Kentucky Derby profile.
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