Dr. Kendall Hansen has January 29 marked on his calender. You should too. That is when the Kentucky doctor’s champion namesake will compete in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Hansen (Tapit x Storm Sunday by Sir Cat) is undefeated in three starts and has never been in any place except for first at every point of those three races. He isn’t the first colt to be in this situation, nor will he be the last. Names like Uncle Mo, War Pass and Johannesburg come to mind. They failed to live up to their three-year-old hype for various reasons. Will Hansen be the same?
Only time will tell. For now, he’s got one big obstacle to overcome and that is his running style. So far in his career he has been all speed, but the ability to rate is a skill he needs to gain; and fast.
If there was ever a time to try and get him to sit behind speed it would be in the Holy Bull Stakes. There isn’t much to lose as it’s the first race of the campaign and he has the luxury of more than enough graded stakes earnings to gain entry to the Kentucky Derby.
The ability to sit behind horses is of paramount importance if Hansen is going to wear roses in May. The break in the Kentucky Derby is like nothing else in all of horse racing and he very well might not be able to make it to the front. Personally, I’d rather find out how he will respond sooner rather than later.
All in all, I expect Hansen to continue to be a top contender for the Kentucky Derby regardless of whether or not he will relax behind horses. Hansen may end up being one of those horses that just throws down the gauntlet and never looks back. Speed horses can and do win numerous races, but in the Kentucky Derby it will be a liability. If he is able to provide his jockey with tactical speed he comes all the more deadly. Hansen has speed, but it will take more than just that to win on the first Saturday in May.