LEXINGTON, Ky. — Dullahan ran down Hansen in the final furlong to insert his own name among the Kentucky Derby favorites in the $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes on Saturday at Keeneland.
Dullahan went off at 3-1 odds, running the 1 1/8th mile on the Polytrack in 1.47.94 under Kent Desormeaux to beat the near white colt that was the center of attention before the race when his tail was partially dyed blue on Saturday and later washed out.
Hansen went straight to the front from the No. 4 post, but Desormeaux positioned Dullahan outside a group of horses in the final stretch and finished impressively, widening the margin of victory by 1 ¼ lengths.
Dullahan paid $8.40, $3.60 and $3. Hansen, at 6-5 odds, returned $3 and $2.60 while Gung Ho, at 31-1 odds, returned $9.20.
Desormeaux was content to keep Dullahan at the back of the field while Hansen sprinted ahead. As far back as 11th at the start of the 13-horse field, Desormeaux worked the chestnut colt through major traffic around the final turn before squeezing between the pack and finding an opening as Hansen began to slow.
The first of owner Ken Ramsey’s two horses in the field– Gung Ho – finished third. Holy Candy was fourth. Howe Great finished fifth after saying he didn’t think his horse had a chance to beat Hansen.
ARKANSAS DERBY: In Hot Springs, Ark., Bodemeister pulled away for a convincing 9½-length victory in the $1 million Arkansas Derby on Saturday at Oaklawn Park.
Bodemeister broke wide coming out of the gate, but quickly took the lead and never relinquished it, in the 76th running of the race, which is a major prep for the Kentucky Derby in May.
The finish was a spectacular outcome for trainer Bob Baffert, who named the winner after his son, Bode. Baffert also trains Secret Circle, who finished a distant second in the field of 11 3-year olds.
The winner, with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith aboard, paid $6.80, $4.60 and $3.60. Secret Circle, ridden by Rafael Bejarano paid $4 and $3. Sabercat ran third, paying $4.80, with Corey Nakatani aboard.
GRAND NATIONAL: In Aintree, England, the Grand National steeplechase was marred for the second year in a row with the death of two horses Saturday, including the pre-race favorite Synchronised.
Synchronised went down at the sixth fence of the 4½-mile, 30-fence race considered one of the world’s most prestigious jumping races. According to Pete went down at the same fence, but later in the race.
The start was delayed when Synchronised unseated jockey Tony McCoy, but race organizers said the horse was “thoroughly checked” by a veterinarian and allowed to line up in the 40-horse field.
Neptune Collonges, a 33-1 long shot, won in the closest finish in the history of the race.
“In both cases the horse incurred a fracture to the leg and the humane option was to put the injured horses down,” said Tim Morris of the British Horseracing Authority. “The Grand National undoubtedly represents a challenge to both horse and rider.
“It has inherent risks, but, working closely with Aintree and other stakeholders, we do all we can to minimize these risks while maintaining the unique character of the race.”