Fans can be so fickle sometimes that it makes one want to
shake his or her head. The hype of last year’s crop was Union Rags
, the stunning
Dixie Union colt who had taken two graded stakes before falling a head short of
the unbeaten Hansen
, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Hansen too received a lot
of hype coming into 2012, but after finishing a well beaten second in the Holy
, his first start since the Breeder’s Cup, many were quick to jump off of
his bandwagon. Union Rags started the year off, validating the hype in the
Fountain of Youth, but after a troubled third, many were quick to question his abilities.
Hansen regained some lost luster when he rated beautifully in the Gotham,
before romping by three lengths. After that race he made his final stop in last weekend's the Blue Grass Stakes
In that race, fickleness struck again as the racing world
watched Hansen fall just over a length short at the wire. The winner, a worthy
one, was the talented Dullahan
. After the Blue Grass it did not take long
before the commentators noted that Hansen would most likely be out of his
element, should he attempt the 10 furlongs of the Kentucky Derby. Their
reasoning…he obviously could not handle the distance of nine furlongs, so how
could one assume he can handle 10? My response…..Are you serious?
People, please look at the facts of the race. Hansen had
already proven he could rate off the pace when he won the Gotham Stakes
is also already in the Kentucky Derby field based on earnings, so it is not like
he needed the Blue Grass Stakes to boost his bankroll. Hansen also had two prior starts, both in stakes this year, meaning that there was no need to push for the win. Dullahan, however only had one prior start, on the turf, in the Palm Beach, meaning a good, strong performace would be needed, so that he could get the necessary conditioning. So, based on these facts,
one can easily gather that one set of connections was only looking for a good,
solid performance, while the others wanted to have their horse primed and ready
for a win.
Now, before anyone begins to scream distance limitations,
take a look at Hansen’s performance. Down in the 4 hole, inside of all the
speed Hansen risked being boxed in, if he were to take back. So instead, Ramon
Dominguez sent him to the lead, where Gung Ho hounded him through fractions of
23 flat, 46 3/5th, and six furlongs in 1.11 and 1/5th.
Another thing to note, Hansen’s mile split of 1.35 2/5th was nearly
two seconds faster than any other mile split run on the main track. His final
1/8th of a mile was roughly 12.68 seconds. For the pace he set, that
is a very respectable closing furlong, and doesn’t give the impression of fading in the least.
Hansen also finished nearly four lengths in front of the third place finisher,
who was only a length off of him at the 3/8th pole and two at the head of
the stretch, meaning Hansen actually was able to lengthen his advantage.
The fact is Hansen did anything but disgrace
himself. The fact is Hansen did anything but fade. The fact is Hansen ran a
huge race and just simply got caught by a horse that relishes the track, received
the perfect set up, and was primed to win because he needed the conditioning. The
fact is that this race gave Hansen exactly what he needed to prime him for the
race that really matters, the Kentucky Derby