By Gene Kershner
On Sunday afternoon, the undefeated Hansen will take on five other colts in the first of three prep races scheduled at Gulfstream Park as horses attempt to gather much needed graded earnings to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. Hansen, with his Breeders' Cup upset victory over the highly-regarded Union Rags, will have more than enough earnings to earn a starting gate in Louisville.
The roan colt has entered the Grade 3 $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes as his first race of 2012 and appears he will take the Florida route to the Derby, one that's been successful for 3-year olds such as Barbaro and Big Brown in recent years.Let's take a gander at the field (trainer, jockey in parenthesis):
1 -- Silver Max (Romans, Leparoux). As what happens when the Derby trail heats up, horses that have been racing mainly on turf take a shot on the dirt. Leparoux gathers the mount for the first time, as Algorithm's jock Javier Castellano helped him break his maiden going a mile the last time out after five straight second-place finishes. Talk about being the bridesmaid and not the bride. The rail post is winning at a phenomenal 22 percent clip; this colt could catch a piece of the trifecta or exacta.
2 -- Consortium (McLaughlin, JR Velazquez). Love the jockey/trainer combo here and the Bernardini colt is running with first time Lasix, an angle that has proven time and again to be one not to ignore. He had a sharp workout Jan. 21 and ran a close second to 6-Algorithms in an allowance race here in December. Dangerous player.
3 -- My Adonis (Breen, Trujillo). He had a rough outing in his last out in the Delta Jackpot over the bullring at Delta Downs. He's been firing bullets at Palm Meadows since after Christmas so he appears to be fit and ready to roll here. Owned by the Halls, who won the Belmont Stakes with Ruler On Ice. His two tries at a mile distance have been impressive, with a 5-length victory in a non-graded stake at Delta and a half-length loss to Jackpot winner Sabercat. If someone goes with Hansen and sets insane fractions, this one could pick up the pieces.
4 -- Hansen (Maker, Dominguez). Ramon flies down from New York for the mount and has won two of his three rides at Gulfstream this winter. Hansen will be sure to be on the lead as he has in his first three races unless his connections start experimenting to see if he can rate, something that is almost a necessity when it comes to the Derby's classic 10-furlong distance. The is one to beat.
5 -- Fort Loudon (Gold, Maragh). After winning three straight non-graded stakes at Calder, he faded to seventh after being caught 4-wide early in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He's probably a little overmatched in here.
6 -- Algorithms (Pletcher, Castellano). Todd Pletcher will be a factor on this year's Derby trail and this race is no different. The five-time Eclipse winning trainer has a solid crop of 3-year olds taking aim at the Run for the Roses. Algorithms should have no problem stretching out to a mile based on his pedigree. The Bernardini colt will be running only his third lifetime race after breaking his maiden impressively in June at Belmont. Pletcher is white hot at Gulfstream, currently winning at a 35 percent clip. I'm going to favor the chalk here based on the mile distance.
Consortium interests me with the first time Lasix angle and McLaughlin is 26 percent using this move. Algorithms should be coming late and will challenge Consortium for place honors. Throw in My Adonis for your trifecta and superfecta plays underneath these three.
Post Time Outlook: 1-Hansen; 2-Consortium; and 3-Algorithms
Good luck this weekend and let's go cash some tickets!