Man and horse back in the limelight in twist to the Hansen tale
Breeder hoping exiled sire can earn repatriation from Korea
If new co-owner Bode Miller is creating extra interest in Fast And Accurate, nobody will be expecting Dr Kendall Hansen to retire into the shadows. Five years after enlivening the Kentucky Derby trail with his homebred namesake, Hansen is returning to Churchill Downs with the colt who carried his silks to win the Spiral Stakes - in the process becoming a third stakes winner from the only Kentucky crop of his eponymous champion, before his departure for South Korea.
"It's a dream come true," says the two-legged Hansen. "I thought Hansen would really need five or six stakes winners and a Graded stakes winner out of his first crop for Coolmore to consider bringing him back from Korea [Coolmore have the option of buying him back]. That was my goal, and now he has the Grade 3 winner.
"I tried to support him that first year. I sent him 40 mares and then I bought a couple of his progeny. So I have 15 for myself. Five haven't run yet, so we don't know about those, but there are also five standouts."
One of those is En Hanse, set to cut back to sprints after finishing behind Fast And Accurate in the Spiral Stakes. A crack at the Woody Stephens Stakes is in his breeder's mind for down the line. Another colt, yearling purchase Han Sense, is Grade 2-placed in Canada while Hansenation was recently stakes-placed in Ohio. Lady Hansen was also stakes-placed last year.
"His progeny are doing well," says Hansen. "The comments were that they were a nice group all the way through - his first two-year-olds were averaging over $100,000 last year before the OBS June Sale came around.
"Obviously it's an uphill battle but I tried to put him in the best position. Mike Maker told me last year that he thought Lady Hansen was the best two-year-old filly he had ever seen. She is about to return to training and we're excited about her."
In a further effort to support the stallion, Hansen gained a license last year to race in Korea. However, those plans have been put on hold.
"I think I was the second American owner to get a license," he says. "I had dinner with the Korean delegates at Keeneland and I thought then that I would breed to the horse there and perhaps buy some at the sales. But then I saw what he was breeding over there and it broke my heart."
Dr Hansen backed the stallion in the sales ring, as well, and has been rewarded as breeder and/or owner of seven stakes performers. Fast And Accurate himself, bred by John Penn, was purchased as a two-year-old in Florida for $85,000.
"His win in the Spiral was my second best day in racing after Hansen's Breeders' Cup Juvenile," he says. "I thought maybe he would have a 20 per cent chance of winning but Mike did tell me a week before that he thought he would run very well."
Though he will not be attempting to dye Fast And Accurate's tail at Churchill Downs - the stewards rendered a similar stunt a literal washout when his sire was going for the Blue Grass Stakes, in an episode that became known as "Tail-gate" - fans will still have the chance to take home a Hansen toy: a small horse with a blue mane and tail.
"We had these toys produced - small horses that you can squeeze, like stress toys," he says. "The fans really liked the ones of Hansen. So I've just had another 1,000 toys produced for Fast And Accurate.
"I never thought I would get the chance to enjoy the Kentucky Derby a second time. Mike [Maker] reckons he's a top six or seven horse. He's been working very well at Churchill too - he just had the bullet work there.
"I'm just really excited. And if he runs well, I sure look forward to sitting down with MV Magnier to discuss bringing Hansen back."