NEW YORK — By his own admission, Kendall Hansen has come up with a few oddball ideas in 30 years of owning racehorses.
His latest brainstorm created quite a stir: He wanted a blue horse.
Hansen is the majority owner of a Kentucky Derby hopeful named Hansen. He proposed dying his near-white colt’s tail and mane blue, with a touch of yellow, to match his racing silks for Saturday’s $400,000 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct.
Hansen’s blog posting in February quickly drew the ire of racing traditionalists citing bad taste and disrespect to the game. Others supported the owner’s claim that a little horse coloring would be a good thing and generate more interest in the weeks leading to the Kentucky Derby on May 5.
Racing stewards in New York had the final word, and said there is “no sustaining merit to the request.” They cited several reasons, including a need to protect the integrity of the sport, discourage other owners from making similar requests and contending “any newly approved equipment item or practice … must not provide an unfair advantage.”
Nonetheless, Hansen, the horse, will be in the starting gate at the Big A as the 6-5 favorite against 12 other 3-year-olds in the 11/16-mile Gotham. With a big effort, Hansen the owner says his striking son of Tapit could be back for the $750,000 Wood Memorial in April before heading to Churchill Downs for the Derby.
“Right now the focus is on Hansen putting in a good 3-year-old race,” the owner said.
Hansen won all three of his starts last year, including a narrow victory over leading Derby contender Union Rags in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and was voted 2-year old male champion. He began this year by stumbling out of the gate, using his speed to take a lead before fading and finishing second in the Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park, five lengths behind Algorithms.
“The Holy Bull was clearly a prep and a tightener for him,” Hansen said, adding that trainer Michael Maker told him the colt was “only 75 percent” for the race. “He’s 100 percent now and we’ll get out of the gate in good order. It’s going to take a Derby contender to stay close to us. The Gotham will be a good measuring stick for other owners and trainers.”