Saturday, November 5, 2011 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, Ky., Nov. 5, 2011 – Hansen, winner of the Bluegrass Cat Kentucky Cup Juvenile Stakes at Turfway in his preparation for the Breeders' Cup World Championships, has won the $2 million Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at Churchill Downs today.
Hansen was bred and is owned by Kendall Hansen, a Northern Kentucky physician, and is trained by Mike Maker. Ramon Dominguez was aboard the nearly white colt for the first time.
The Breeders' Cup Juvenile was just Hansen's third career start. He broke his maiden at Turfway at first asking, obliterating a maiden special weight field by 12 1/4 lengths before dominating the Kentucky Cup Juvenile by 13 1/4 lengths. The Breeders' Cup race was Hansen's first start on dirt following his two wins on Turfway's Polytrack. Like the Kentucky Cup Juvenile, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile covered 1 1/16 miles.
Because no horse had ever gotten close enough to look Hansen in the eye, the question going into the Breeders' Cup Juvenile was how he would respond if he were tested. He answered the question with emphatic heart, digging in when Champagne Stakes (G1) winner Union Rags came to him on his outside in deep stretch. Hansen held off that proven star to prevail by a head after leading nearly from the get-go.
"The more (Dominguez) asked, the more he gave," said track announcer Trevor Denman in the race call.
Maker has had his eye on the Breeders' Cup for Hansen since before the colt even broke a gate. "He's a natural," the trainer said. "Obviously his performance speaks for itself. That's the way he wants to run and we weren't going to change a thing. It's just that natural ability. Obviously he’s got a lot of speed and he's always shown it. He's also got a lot of fight; a bunch of good characteristics. We pointed to the Breeders' Cup before he ever ran. I only told that to the owners, and they're as crazy as I am."
"He ran superb for me," said Dominguez. "Going into the first turn, he was a little aggressive. That made me a little concerned. When we got to the backside, he switched to his right (lead) and he came back to me and relaxed beautiful. I got pressed pretty early, around the three-eighths pole, but he continued coming for me. I'm very pleased. He's special."
Hansen was the 7-1 third choice in the field of 13 and paid $16.20 for the win. The even-money favorite Union Rags was second, and Creative Cause was a further length back in third.
Hansen is by Tapit out of Stormy Sunday, a Sir Cat mare owned by Dr. Hansen. Hansen's earnings in three undefeated starts jumped from $73,305 to more than $1.1 million with Saturday's gutsy win.