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Breeders' Cup 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Dueling Down The Stretch

Hansen, Time to Go Big or Go Home

Hansen, Time to Go Big or Go Home
Hansen, one of the most intriguing horses currently running on the Derby trail of 2012, will be looking for redemption this Saturday, in the 1 1/16 Gotham Stakes. A son Tapit, the nearly white colt was last seen finishing a well beaten second to Algorithms in the Holy Bull Stakes. That day he stumbled out of the gate, grabbed the bit and rushed up to take the lead, setting ridiculous fractions. His 22 and change second quarter all but set the race up for the winner that day.
After such an inauspicious start to his three year old campaign, the connections of Hansen decided that some changes needed to be made. Firstly, they decided that a switch back to Hansen’s original ring bit was in order. In the Holy Bull he wore a snaffle, a bit that the connections felt was too severe on their charge, who is known for his free, front running style. The second, last, and most important change is the subtraction of Hansen’s trademark blinkers.
In his early training, Hansen was unfocused. Trainer Mike Maker has said that the colt used to weave, duck and dive all directions during his morning workouts on the track. That lack of focus brought the addition of blinkers, which improved Hansen’s focus. He wore them in all three of his 2011 starts, winning them all, including beating the recent Fountain of Youth winner, Union Rags, in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Hoping that Hansen now has learned to focus on his own, the connections remove the blinkers in hopes that Hansen will relax more kindly after making the lead, or possibly even relax off of the pace.
Hansen obviously has the talent, the speed, and the heart to compete on the Triple Crown trail, but he needs to show that he has the mind to relax this Saturday, for that will be the key to his ability to stay the Classic distances. We know that he can run the competition off their feet going 1 1/16miles, and as a two year old his speed was so far superior that he could burn off most of his opponents before the stretch, but at three he is playing a whole new ballgame. He cannot have a repeat of the Holy Bull Stakes, where he panicked after stumbling and caused his own downfall.
In the Gotham, Hansen drew post 12 of 13 horses. This could either help him or hurt him. Should he not relax and gun for the lead he will have to use every ounce of his speed to clear the 11 horses to his inside before switching off. He already proved that once given the cue to go, that he is a very hard horse to rein back in. His other option would be to break sharply, use his natural speed to get a comfortable stalking/pressing position. Hopefully, without blinkers, being to the outside of his competitors, and switching back to his old bit, will help Hansen relax and run a race similar to option B.
With the patient Ramon Dominguez aboard, along with the other changes, I do believe Hansen will be able to relax. Chances are he got what he needed out of the Holy Bull and is now ready to run like the professional racehorse we all saw in 2011. If he does, he’ll primed and ready for his third and final prep, wherever that may be, before entering what should be a highly competitive and competitive Kentucky Derby.


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Older Comments about Hansen, Time to Go Big or Go Home...

Until he gets 9 frulongs, the jury remians out
Well it looks like he went big! And he can rate!
He went very big :) So proud of him today, that was a perfect, perfect race for him. He looked like a pro out there and also looked like he could have kept going for another quarter or so :)
He went big!
I was having my doubts about Hansen, but he proved me wrong. I guess he's not a one dimentional horse after all, love the way he proved he could sit right off the pace & still win. Maybe 10 furlongs won't be a problem.
Hansen won but not sure how the race went.
Rated well right off the lead, the pace was fairly soft, but he pulled away to win in fine order. Good luck to him in the future.
Alone on the lead he is gone. Pushed and the duo of 4 and 10 have a shot
Caleb's Posse looks vulnerable too
After Hansen it's a crapshoot, paid 320K for the #2 jarrod likes and he was the buzz horse at the spa last summer, touted as being another super horse back then.
Hansen struggled because he went to hard early , if fit today an rated right he will easily handle this field
Sloppy track, post #12, this will be a good test for Hansen. On paper he definetly looks like the best horse & he did not run a bad race in the Holy Bull after a 3 month layoff. In the BC Juv he was all heart, but I still question if he's really that good & if he wants any part of 10 furlongs, I hope he does.
Pretension in a huge upset
Unless the track is a sea of slop, I agree that this will be a paramount test to see if he should point to the Derby.
Still believing in Hansen, I still think it did take a big effort to defeat Union Rags, we all know a champion is built on his heart, I don't think his will has been broken yet. He still believes in himself.
One should give Derby hopefuls two less than stellar races before abandoning their Derby hopes
Side Road has a good shot in this as Hansen may be too early, but the front end will be all Hansen. Ramon knows how to control a pace
notobsessed, you think that was because he had just thrown down a 22 and change second quarter? Any horse, wet, dry, or cement, being the surface they are running on, would have been struggling after that.
with all being said..I believe My Adonis and Tiger Walk have a good shot on an upset in the race.
Unlike most of you, I don't think he likes a sloppy track, he looked like he was really struggling with it in the Holy Bull in the stretch. .

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Meet Laura Pugh

Laura Pugh got her first taste of Thoroughbred Racing when she watched War Emblem take the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2001. After that point, she fell in love with the sport, reading every piece of news and information she could get her fingertips on.

Laura has a long history with horses in general, taking her first ride on her fifth birthday, with her first official riding lesson when she was eight years old. Both years she attended college she joined her school’s equestrian team, first at the now closed Virginia Intermont College, then again at Delaware State University. Unfortunately, after back and shoulder injuries, she had to hang up her saddle. 

In 2010 Laura came to Horse Racing Nation, but soon branched out to other media outlets, such as Lady and the Track, TwinSpires.com, and USRacing. She currently works at a local newspaper as a community reporter, while making a return to Horse Racing Nation, where she will once again feature her opinionated columns on the latest in horse racing. 

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