Dullahan: comes from the rear to claim Blue Grass Stakes at KeenelandPICTURE: EquiSport Photos/Matt Wooley
Dullahan charges down Hansen in Blue Grass
Report: USA, Saturday
Keeneland: Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (Grade 1) 1m1f, AW, 3yo
ALL-WEATHER specialist Dullahan (Dale Romans/Kent Desormeaux) threw his hat into the Kentucky Derby ring when closing from well off the pace to run down Breeders' Cup winner Hansen in the Blue Grass Stakes.
A half-brother to shock 2009 Derby winner Mine That Bird, Dullahan has a similar running style - with perhaps a touch more pace, as his time of 1min 47.94sec was a race record.
Sent off 32-10 second choice behind Hansen, Dullahan certainly loves the Polytrack, having also landed last season's Breeders' Futurity on the surface.
Hansen made the running in the $750,000 event, setting rapid fractions as he comfortably held off a phalanx of pacey types before pushing on in the stretch with what looked a race-winning move.
That was until Dullahan appeared on the scene down the centre of the track and comfortably overcame the leader to score by a length and three-quarters. Hansen's stablemate Gung Ho was third in a 13-runner event.
After returning to action on turf last month, Dullahan will now switch to the dirt in the Kentucky Derby on May5 at Churchill Downs, where he closed well to take fourth behind Hansen in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
"He did everything that a good horse has to do to win," said winning trainer Dale Romans. "When it's time to accelerate, Kent had enough horse to split through. He gets the job done. He's just a special horse - I don't think the distance [of the Kentucky Derby] will be a problem. The further the better."
Also on Saturday
Keeneland: Jenny Wiley Stakes (Grade 1) 1m½f, turf, 4yo+ f/m
Irish trainer Andrew McKeever enjoyed his first Grade 1 success as Daisy Devine (James Graham) made the most of a soft lead, sprinting off the turn for a 7-1 victory.
The four-year-old, who was completing a four-timer in the process, scored by a cosy length in the $300,000 event.
The trainer's compatriot Graham was notching his second Grade 1 win a week after the first, having won the Ashland Stakes in similar fashion on Karlovy Vary seven days previously.
Keeneland: Shakertown Stakes (Grade 3) 5½f, turf, 3yo+
The late-charging Perfect Officer (Tony Dutrow/Javier Castellano) just about came off best in a field of leading US turf sprinters, nosing out Great Mills in an exciting finish.