Race of the Week 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

Is the Iowa Derby beneath Hansen?

It’s been a decade since a champion has run in the state of Iowa, so when 2011 Juvenile Champion, Hansen takes to the Prairie Meadows’ track on Saturday evening for the Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile $250,000 Iowa Derby, it should be a big deal for race goers in the Hawkeye State. It’s not that the Iowa Festival of Racing does not consistently attract quality horses, as evidenced by the appearance of top older horse, Successful Dan, running one race later in the Cornhusker Handicap, but it just has not quite managed to bring that true marquee name to the 13-year-old racetrack … until now. Hansen, for many reasons, is one of the most talked about horses in the nation and his connections have made the choice to run their stable star in the Iowa Derby as a bridge from the Kentucky Derby to the Travers. Who will he face in a little over 48 hours from now? Honestly, not much. In fact, the rest of the field has come up so light that the boo-birds have already been out in strength questioning whether or not a horse like Hansen should be entered in such a race.

I’d like to answer that question with not only a “Yes,” but a resounding one at that. Hansen has not raced since a tough one in the most important three-year-old contest of the year, the Kentucky Derby. His connections, owner Kendall Hansen, and trainer Mike Maker, have already stated they will be pointing their beautiful gray for the most important race of the summer for the sophomore set, the $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga. Clearly they are not trying to duck anyone, but rather get their horse a sensible spot to return to the races in hopes of building him back up to his best for the Mid-Summer Derby. There is no reason at all to be jumping on his connections because the graded, quarter of a million dollar race has come up too easy.

As for the rest of the Iowa Derby field, the main threat may come from the local hope, Alsvid, for trainer Chris Hartman. Undefeated in two starts this year, he has won the two local preps for the Iowa Derby, the Golden Circle and the Prairie Mile with ease. He may be in career best form, but in his two previous attempts in stakes races worth a hundred grand or more, he came up well short. 109-1 Louisiana Derby winner, Hero of Order, has finished 13th, 5th, and 8th in his three starts since for ice-cold conditioner, Gennadi Dorochenko, but does make his first start on dirt since his shocking win in New Orleans. His stablemate Macho Bull, and the late running Truetap, from the Steve Asmussen barn, round out the five-horse Iowa Derby field.

Hansen should be 1-5 or lower in this field, and likely win like a horse bet that much should. The three-time stakes winner towers over this field in class, and should pick up a nice check while regaining some all-important confidence after finishing 2nd in the Blue Grass and 9th in the Derby, in his last two starts. Is the Iowa Derby beneath a horse of Hansen’s stature? Not at all, it seems like the perfect spot to me.
Enjoy seeing a champion, Iowa.


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Older Comments about Is the Iowa Derby beneath Hansen?...

who would ever want to be a trainer? I worked, voluntarily, as a groom/hot walker and saw their hours and grind. I will remaim a player on the other side of the track thank you
Dreams do come true!
The reason TV is not a world class trainer and instead haunts HRN is he does not have THAT much knowlege. He is certainly knowlegable, but not to that extent.
Not obsessed. Hope you had a great time seeing Hansen in person.
And yet, top trainers have said for the last 300 years that horses who are beat too bad too often lose their spirit and stop running. Guess you missed that. That's why you give them confidence builders.
confidnece builder? Horses intellects make it a tough choice between the food in their tub and the food on the floor. The idea of confidence requires language skills, complex frontl lobe experiences etc...Horses don't have HUMAN capabilities
A paid work out guest appearance.
I could only do an exacta1 w/5 not my tri and the 5 did not place, sadly for me.
Just watched the replay and I gotta say it was nice to see him win again..BTW, nice wrap to your article Brian..If I was a Iowa resident, I'd be pretty stoked to have a champ at my hometown track.
Alsvid will beat him
Easy prep for Hansen, going to win by 5+ lengths hand ridden. On the contrary, Hero of Order is overrated and does not deserve a 7.15 rating...
JordynB., 1/2,5/2,5 Iowa Derby. p3: 1,3/1/3,5
Cant wait to go watch! What's everyones exacta/picks for the derby? Hansen should win this easily, you would think.
These are the days one sees the poor unnessarily drugged babies staggering back to the barns dehydrated and in total electrolye chaos from the ridiculous use of "prophylatic" lasix
Thrilled for my fave to race again, glad its evening, its as hot in Des Moines as here in Atlanta almost.
Have a great time, notob.
It's a drean come true for me, not only am i going to my first horse races, but I get to see one of my favorite horses!
dont think its beneath him. lot of good horses who can easily beat him
  • plez2k10 · Perhaps, but I don't think any of them are in this field, though... I'd be *shocked* if Hansen didn't win... · 2033 days ago

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as co-hosting the popular racing show, HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.


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