Kendall Hansen and Sky Chai Racing's undefeated 2011 Eclipse champion 2-year-old Hansen takes his first steps toward the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Triple Crown trail as the flashy roan/gray colt launches his 3-year-old campaign in Sunday's $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3) going a mile at Gulfstream Park.
Jockey Ramon Dominguez will be back in the saddle on Hansen for trainer Mike Maker after they teamed up for a stunning wire-to-wire victory by a head over heavy favorite Union Rags in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5. A Kentucky homebred by Tapit, Hansen had won both of his previous starts at Turfway Park by double-digit margins. He's the 6-5 favorite.
“We've had no bumps in the road,” said Maker of Hansen's training ahead of his return to competition. “Hopefully, that trend continues.” Hansen has gone wire-to-wire in all three starts. “It's no different than a closer. You're dependant on the pace. You just hope no one makes him go quicker earlier than he has to.”
Hansen faces five rivals in the Holy Bull, led by Starlight Stable's Algorithms from the arsenal of 3-year-old talent in the Todd Pletcher barn this winter. A son of Bernardini, Algorithms has won both of his career stars, his debut at Belmont Park in June by 5 ¼ lengths and a hard-fought one-length allowance score at 6 ½ furlongs here on Dec. 16. Leading Gulfstream jockey Javier Castellano gets the return call. Algorithms is 5-2 in the morning line.
“He's trained very well,” Pletcher said. “His first two races have been excellent, he's bred to stretch out and we're optimistic he's a top-level colt.”
Godolphin Racing's Consortium finished a game second as the 4-to-5 favorite to Algorithms in the on Dec. 16, beaten a length, and comes back in the Holy Bull with jockey John Velazquez aboard for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. The Kentucky homebred is also a son of highly-successful Darley stallion Bernardini and won his only previous start at Aqueduct on Nov. 12 by 4 ¾ lengths.
Jacks or Better Farm's homebred Fort Loudon also makes his first start since the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Churchill in which he finished seventh with a wide trip from the far outside post 13, beaten nine lengths for it all by Hansen. Jockey Rajiv Maragh rides Fort Loudon for trainer Stanley Gold. The son of Awesome of Course swept the three 'open' divisions of the Florida Stallion Stakes at Calder before the Juvenile.
Completing the field for the Holy Bull are Lori and George Hall's My Adonis, Elvis Trujillo; and Mark Bacon's Silver Max, Julien Leparoux.
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