The 88th running of the Grade 1, $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes, scheduled for April 14, received a major boost in horsepower Thursday when it was announced that 2011 Eclipse Award-winning juvenile champion Hansen would use the race as his final prep for the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby.
Owned by Dr. Kendall E. Hansen and Sky Chai Racing, Hansen is trained by Mike Maker, who won this race in 2010 with Stately Victor. Maker came within a nose of winning last year's Blue Grass with Twinspired, who also was co-owned by Sky Chai Racing.
The most recent Juvenile champion to race in the Blue Grass Stakes was Street Sense, who finished second in the 2007 renewal before going on to win the Kentucky Derby.
"There are several reasons why we elected to run Hansen in the Toyota Blue Grass," said Dr. Hansen, who also bred the colt. "Foremost is that the horse will have to travel less and we think that is safer for him.
"If we win, Hansen will have Grade 1 victories on both all-weather and dirt surfaces. It also allows us to stay home and in familiar surroundings. And, very importantly, since a majority of his fan base is in Kentucky, it gives them a chance to see him run."
Hansen was undefeated in 2011, capping off a three-for-three campaign (including two wins on Polytrack at Turfway Park) with a victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs. Hansen finished second in his 2012 debut in the Grade 3 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park in January and, in his most recent start, won the Grade 3 Gotham at Aqueduct on March 3.
"We're extremely pleased to have the two-year-old champion from last year in the Toyota Blue Grass," Vice President of Racing Rogers Beasley said.
Dr. Hansen said that regular rider Ramon Dominguez, who is currently recovering from a separated collarbone, will have the mount in the Blue Grass.
In total,180 three-year-olds were nominated to the Blue Grass. The post position draw will be held April 11 at 11:30 a.m. (EDT).