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Hansen likely to face 10 challengers in Blue Grass
Kendall E. Hansen and Skychai Racing's Hansen, champion two-year-old male of 2011, is the marquee name among 11 horses under consideration for the 88th running of the Grade 1, $750,000 Blue Grass to be contested at 1 1/8 miles over Keeneland's Polytrack on April 14.
Winner of four of five career starts, highlighted by a triumph in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs last fall, Hansen would be the first reigning two-year-old champion to run in the Blue Grass since Street Sense used the race as a springboard to victory in the 2007 Kentucky Derby.
Trained by Mike Maker, Hansen won the Grade 3 Gotham in his most recent start and is preparing for the Blue Grass at the Trackside Training Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
Keeneland Racing Secretary Ben Huffman has 10 other horses considered as probable for the Blue Grass, which was won last year by Brilliant Speed.
Chief among the 10 is Donegal Racing's Dullahan, winner of the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland last fall. A half-brother to 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, he will be seeking to join Round Table (1956-57) as the only horse to complete a Breeders' Futurity-Blue Grass double.
Dullahan finished fourth behind Hansen in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and exits a strong second to fellow Blue Grass probable Howe Great in the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes over the Gulfstream Park turf. Howe Great is owned by Team Valor International, who also campaign last year's Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom.
Prospective, victor of the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby last out, and Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity scorer Drill, who comes off a win in the Grade 2 San Vicente, are other prominent names on the list of probables.
Also under consideration for the Blue Grass are recent Santa Anita maiden romper Holy Candy; Ever So Lucky, runner-up in last fall's Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club and most recently third in the Grade 3 Swale; stakes winner Gung Ho, a close second in the Rushaway; Grade 3-placed stakes scorer Adirondack King, who shipped out of Oaklawn after his seventh in the Grade 2 Rebel; Private Terms victor Raconteur; and Gulfstream allowance winner Politicallycorrect.
Turf sophomores will kick off the spring meet in Friday's 24th running of the Grade 3, $100,000 Transylvania at 1 1/16 grassy miles. Team Valor International's State of Play, winner of the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park in his most recent start and winner of the Grade 2 With Anticipation last year at Saratoga, is expected to be the major name in the entry box Tuesday when post positions are drawn.
Among those also expected to be entered are Icon Ike, undefeated on the grass, and Silver Max, who has compiled a record of 5-2-3-0 on the turf. Icon Ike captured the Black Gold at Fair Grounds last out, beating subsequent Grade 2 Louisiana Derby shocker Hero of Order.