Dr. Kendall Hansen and Sky Chai Racing have the 6-5 morning-line favorite for Keeneland’s $750,000 Toyota Bluegrass Stakes (Grade1) with their Tapit colt, Hansen. Hansen comes into the race off a three length win in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes in which he earned a Brisnet speed figure of 105. It was a redemptive win for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and Two-Year-Old Champion who was the beaten favorite in his sophomore debut, the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes.
Hansen, who has four wins in five starts, will try the Keeneland Polytrack for the first time on Saturday. He has two wins over Turfway’s Polytrack, but that doesn’t give owner Dr. Kendall Hansen much assurance.
“Not a lot of confidence, but it's exciting when your horse has won his two Polytrack races by 12 and 13 lengths,” said Hansen. “I hope he can have a lot of fun on it Saturday without throwing out his biggest race.”
Trainer Mike Maker brought the colt out to Keeneland early Friday morning for a gate work in an attempt to correct Hansen’s the poor starts from the gate he showed in his last two races. As the top earner on the Kentucky Derby’s graded earnings list with $1.4 Million, Hansen doesn’t need to win this race, but should be the horse to beat. Hansen will break from post 4 with regular rider Ramon Dominguez aboard.
Horses with turf experience or a turf pedigree tend to perform well over Keeneland’s Polytrack and Dullahan and Howe Great have both done well on the turf. Dale Roman’s Dullahan exits a second place performance in the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes on the turf in which fellow Bluegrass competitor Howe Great beat him by a length. According to Trakus, the chicklet system that digitally monitors a horse’s position throughout a race, Dullahan covered 44 feet more than Howe Great in the Palm Beach Stakes. The added distance could be equated to just more than five lengths.