Thoughts on Hansen's Gotham win// Key workouts for the Rebel, Tampa Bay Derby, San Felipe// State of Play bounces back

According to his owner, 2-year-old Champion Hansen was not happy after his first defeat nearly five weeks ago in the Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream.  A flight to New York and an authoritative win in the Gotham Stakes (G3) Saturday at Aqueduct hopefully will make Hansen easier to deal with around the barn.  Plagued with the misfortune of post 12 in a 13-horse field, many handicappers (including myself) felt the colt was vulnerable as the short-priced favorite, especially considering his apparent need to set the pace.  When the gates flung open and Hansen was forced to both race wide and sit off a couple early leaders, it was immediately apparent he was going to be tested.  Trainer Michael Maker had made adjustments to Hansen’s bit and also decided to shed blinkers completely. Whether it was those tweaks or the mere fact the colt is maturing, the fifth race of the Champ’s career proved to be a revelation.  Jockey Ramon Dominguez was able to hold Hansen back and get him to relax along the backstretch just off pacesetter King and Crusader.  The winning move came on the far turn when Dominguez loosened the reigns, passed the leader on the outside, and navigated an easy stretch run along the rail.  The final margin was 3-lengths over My Adonis who was another 6-lenghts clear of Finnegan’s Wake, and the final time for 1 1/16 miles was 1:43.84.

It is of no fault to Hansen who ended up behind him, but the Gotham field was questionable.  Only two horses were open Stakes winners (both ungraded) while 9 challengers only graduated from either maiden or allowance company. This scenario was intentional for Hansen’s connections, who fled from the tough Florida circuit for an easier spot to boost his confidence.

Nonetheless, Hansen showed toughness, poise, and professionalism in his Gotham win.  His ability to now rate off the lead will cause many previous doubters to rethink their opinion on his chances in the Kentucky Derby.  His next and final race before the Derby will most likely be the Wood Memorial (G1) at the same track, which could set an intriguing matchup with Alpha//       

State of Play was back to winning ways Saturday with a photo finish victory in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway.  The Spiral (G3) will most likely be his next race, which would be fitting for connections Team Valor and Graham Motion, who used the same race to launch Animal Kingdom into the Derby last year// After trainer Mike Harrington was quoted multiple times saying he was trying to separate his two Derby contenders Creative Cause and Empire Way, it seems there is now a good possibility they will face each other in the San Felipe (G2)// The Kentucky Derby is still a possible target for the filly On Fire Baby// Ever So Lucky, who had some foot bruising recently, fired a bullet workout move at Gulfstream.  He’s still likely for the Swale (G2) next Saturday// I’ll Have Another had his public workout Saturday at Santa Anita, and according to DRF it was good one. Many other key workouts occurred Saturday for contenders Dullahan, Currency Swap, Alpha, Battle Hardened, and Gemologist.  All times are below// The Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #2 is still open and as of Saturday night ‘All Others’ were still the favorite at 5-2 followed by Union Rags at 4-1.   Hansen dropped from 12-1 to 8-1 following his Gotham victory…

Gotham Stakes (G3)
Winner: Hansen
Trainer: Michael Maker
Jockey: Ramon Dominguez
Video: YouTube
Wrap-up articles: NYRA / AP / Bloodhorse / Brisnet / DRF
Beyer: 95 (Preliminary)

John Battaglia Memorial Stakes
Winner: State of Play
Trainer: H. Graham Motion
Jockey: Victor Lebron
Wrap-up articles: DRF / Bloodhorse / Brisnet
Beyer: 83 (Preliminary)


Empire Way HOL- 5F- 1.01:00- H- 24/54
Consulado HOL- 4F- 46:00- H- 1/48
Hakama FH- 5F- 1.01:60- B- 2/7
Hogy HAW- 5F- 1.04:60- B- 9/11
Scatman OP- 5F- 1.01:60- B- 10/42
Atigun OP- 5F- 1.01:00- B- 6/42
Hammers Terror FG- 5F- 1.00:40- B- 7/53
Dullahan GP- 5F- 1.00:60- H- 2/19
Ever So Lucky GP- 5F- 58:80- H- 1/19
Currency Swap GP- 5F- 1.03:80- B- 17/19
Alpha PMM- 4F- 49:83- B- 31/48
Battle Hardened PMM- 5F- 1.02:04- B- 3/9
Thunder Moccasin PMM- 4F- 49:70- B- 25/48
Gemologist PMM- 5F- 1.00:22- B- 1/9
I'll Have Another SA- 6F- 1.10:00- H- 1/4