Look! Out on the track! It’s a racecar, it’s a speeding train, it’s … Hansen!
Surely I was not the only one exclaiming those words on Saturday. After watching a replay of the striking, near white colt’s maiden win, a 12 length runaway on September 9, I was fully prepared to watch what he would do against a field of seven in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile. Turns out, he was not hard to follow.
In a race that has produced such stars as Point Given, Editor’s Note, and Vindication, in only 18 previous runnings, Hansen blew the doors off his competition in a fashion more impressive than any winner of the race to date. A son of Tapit, out of the Sir Cat mare, Stormy Sunday, Hansen took it to the field right away. Rushing up from his outside post position, it was clear no one was going to get the early jump on the 1-2 favorite. After a quarter mile, he was two lengths ahead of the field, and from there it was just a matter of how by how much he would win. The answer would be 13 ¼ lengths as the rest of the field was left floundering in his wake at the Turfway Park finish line. Ridden by Victor Lebron, he completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.83.
In two starts, both at Turfway, Hansen has now won by a combined margin of 25 ¼ lengths. Things will get tougher next out though, much tougher. After the win Saturday, trainer Mike Maker announced that the plan for his unbeaten speedster is to send him straight to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. So not only will the level of competition be much stiffer, but the attempt, in the most important race for two-year-olds in America, will mark Hansen’s first race ever on dirt.
His connections, especially owner, Kendall Hansen, and jockey Victor Lebron speak in glowing terms of their new star, and for good reason. Despite the hurdles he will have to overcome in the Breeders’ Cup, Hansen’s speed and talent clearly make him a threat against the best of his generation. By Tapit, Hansen should make the tradition to dirt, or turf for that matter, just fine. He also has the advantage of being accustomed to a dirt surface, as all his recent workouts have come at the Churchill Downs Training Center.
The Kentucky Cup Juvenile was only part of an incredible day for Maker. At Turfway alone, he won five races, three of them coming in the Kentucky Cup stakes series, and a fourth coming in a maiden race won by Tapanna, who is the three-year-old full brother of Hansen. Maker’s day was not confined to northern Kentucky though, as he also scored north of the border, winning the Ontario Derby at Woodbine with Derby Kitten.