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Hansen to Gotham; Alpha will train in Florida for Wood
Hansen, 2011's champion two-year-old male, will make his next start in the Grade 3, $400,000 Gotham Stakes, run at 1 1/16 miles over the inner track at Aqueduct Racetrack on March 3, according to Dr. Harvey Diamond, founder and racing manager of Skychai Racing, part-owner of Hansen along with Dr. Kendall Hansen.
"We felt that the Gotham was a good spot and the timing was excellent," Diamond said of the Michael Maker-trained colt. "We would love to take a shot at the Big Apple."
After an undefeated three-for-three campaign last year that culminated with a narrow victory over Union Rags in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs, Hansen's 2012 debut did not go as expected.
On January 29, the striking gray son of Tapit stumbled badly at the start of the Grade 3 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park, rushed up to take the lead through an opening-half mile in :45 3/5, and was not able to fend off Algorithms in the stretch, finishing second by four lengths.
"We would like to get a better start in the Gotham," Diamond said. "We don't want to make excuses, but when you think about it he probably ran the first quarter a second faster than what the timer showed. He ran two really fast quarters and that affected him in the latter stages. We are not taking anything away from Algorithms. He is a super horse and was better that day than Hansen. We just hope that on Gotham Day he will settle himself in the gate and show the Hansen that we all know he is."
Diamond added that after the Gotham, there are a number of possible options, including the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 7 and the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park on March 24.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said his pair of Godolphin Racing Classic contenders, Alpha and Consortium, have "switched spots," with Alpha now being based at Palm Meadows in Florida and Consortium located at Belmont Park.
Alpha had been training at Belmont since December 28 and made two van rides over to Aqueduct Racetrack to win the Count Fleet on January 7 and the Grade 3 Withers on February 4. Following the Withers, McLaughlin said Alpha would most likely make his next start in Gotham or the $1 million Wood Memorial at 1 1/8 miles. McLaughlin now says the Wood Memorial is the likelier option for the Bernardini colt.
"He shipped yesterday and is at Palm Meadows," McLaughlin said from Florida. "He'll train here and probably won't work for two weeks. There's a plane going up to New York before the Gotham we could take, but he'll probably make his next start in the Wood Memorial, with an outside chance of the Florida Derby the week before."
Consortium prepped at Palm Meadows for his start in the Holy Bull and was re-routed to New York after finishing last of six in the one-mile race, which was contested over a sloppy racetrack.
"We sent Consortium on a van to New York (Friday)," McLaughlin said. "We'll look at the Gotham with him. He worked at Palm Meadows on Thursday (four furlongs in 50 4/5), and he probably won't work in New York until (February 18)."