Race of the Week 2017

Just let the gray horse roll!

“His only chance is if they teach him to rate.” 
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read or heard many "experts" say this about Hansen’s prospects for the 2012 Kentucky Derby
Balderdash, I say.
Perhaps they do not remember horses like Bold Forbes, Seattle Slew, Spend a Buck, Winning Colors, Go For Gin, and War Emblem leading their respective Kentucky Derby fields on a merry chase for ten furlongs. Wiring the Derby has been done many times before and it will be done again.
Now I understand Hansen looked good in the Gotham while not grabbing the lead until the far turn with the equipment change of blinkers off. I believe this had a lot more to do with Hansen demonstrating his superiority over an overmatched field, rather than a whole new of style of racing for the juvenile champion.
It should not be overlooked that Hansen did not break particularly fast from his outside post in the Gotham, and rider Ramon Dominguez would have had to use Hansen to an unreasonable extent to clear the field by the short run into the first turn.
The good news was Hansen was tractable, not rated mind you, but tractable. He was able to accept the hand dealt to him in the post-position draw and the first quarter of a mile, and make the most of the situation like a good horse should. 
If you are expecting Hansen to sit off the pace in the Wood Memorial, in preparation for the Kentucky Derby, I think you will be disappointed. And if you are not, because their is a need to pull him back early, it is my opinion that it will not be the best thing for the horse. 
The worst thing you can do to a free-wheeling, front-running type of talent like Hansen, is to wrangle him back for six furlongs and then expect him to rally at a distance farther than he’s ever attempted before. Granted I do not want Hansen hooking up in a 45 second half mile speed duel – By the way, those type of fractions are not the norm in the Derby - all I am saying is let Hansen do his thing.
I have a great deal of respect for his trainer, Michael Maker, and I appreciate the enthusiasm of his owner, Dr. Kendall Hansen. I believe Hansen winning the Derby would make for a great story, so to that end I offer this simple advice.  

When it comes to the best chance for Hansen in the Kentucky Derby, I say let the gray horse roll, and see how far he can go.
Photo courtesy of Matt Shifman 


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Older Comments about Just let the gray horse roll! ...

Agreed, it probably is a little harder now due to the field size, but all it will take is a quality speed horse to comfortably get out in front with a logjam of horses behind him or her.
I think it is harder for a front runner to win the Derby today with 20 horse fields and a number of speed horses that really have no chance to win. I agree it is possible and maybe it is Hansens best chance to win, but the race needs to set up just right. If he has learned to rate I think it improves his chances a lot.
On the Hansen blog (http://blogs.courier-journal.com/hansen/) they've stated that Johnny V will temporarily replace Ramon if Ramon can't ride... at least in the Wood, I guess.
Nail on the head.
I agree, I trust Michael Maker to continue to do what is best for his horse
I agree with Andy, the Wood is going to be wickedly good. Feverishly good. And if that's not enough, this is where Schnitzie makes an appearance.
I hope Ramon is on Hansen in the Derby. I love to watch him on Hansen, it's magical!
Ramon is said to be doing well. Being ready for the Derby should not be an issue, but maybe Lebron will ride him in the Wood.
I agree. But, the big question now is will Dominguez be healthy to ride in the Derby? Please tell me you go to Lebron if not.
Thank you Zattster. I do think Hansen has an excellent shot at doing great things!
cocoa..you honestly think HDG wasnt horse of the year last year? Whats wrong with people?
I think its important to remember horse racing does take luck- A horse having a good day, with a winning jockey who is experienced, calm and collected, a good post position draw, etc. can all make a sub par horse decimate a field of better horses. Personally I believe the reason I see all these capable horses drop out of the derby in the last furlongs is linked more or less to their jockey on the day of the derby. Jockey gets too excited=major mistakes=losing horse. I still like to believe in the horse himself so I will still bet on Hansen because I think he is more than capable of winning. However, stating a horse was lucky in winning a race is like saying somebody won 20,000 dollars winning poker because they where lucky- of course they where lucky, horse racing just like poker is about luck. Its about hoping that the day brings you every factor that you need to win.
Havre de Grace winning HOY. Tizway, Acclamation, Cape Blanco...
What bias was that? Oh the great Satan of the Eastern Establishment. Hogwash, it went to the right ones.
After the bias I witnessed in the Eclipse Awards any expert picks are out, unless their horse is settin' track records right and left.
I always doubt the experts, when it comes to the Derby. My bet will be on Hansen.
I just don't see Hansen winning the Wood, nor do I see him winning the Derby. Union Rags is going to be a major factor and there are several sleepers right now who I think are going to be a factor as well. Hansen got seriously lucky in the BC Juvenile race, UR ran a much longer race and if he would've had another stride, would've defeated Hansen. People are down on Alpha right now, but really, who did Hansen beat in the Gotham? Both Alpha & Hansen are taking the road of least resistance to the Derby, which is fine. To write off ANY Bernardini foal is foolish, IMHO, seeing as Bernardini is passing his greatness along better than almost any other sire. My Derby pick right now is UR, followed by any foal of Bernardini. Hansen hasn't proven anything to me thus far. That may change after the Wood.
I would love to see Hansen keep winning, no matter how he gets the job done.
And it looks like quite a field shaping up for the $1,000,000 Wood Memorial!
I would not be surprised to see him handle longer distances at 1 1/4, 1 1/2 he's learning racing isn't just about sprinting. Vote! Hansen for president...

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