Juvenile champ Hansen injured, facing retirement

awincze@herald-leader.comAugust 22, 2012 

Reigning juvenile champion and fan favorite Hansen will probably become the latest top 3-year-old to be retired abruptly after he was discovered to have a tear in his left front tendon, majority owner and breeder Dr. Kendall Hansen said Wednesday.

Hansen was slated to run in Saturday's Grade I Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course. Trainer Mike Maker declared the son of Tapit out of the race when inflammation was found in his left front leg Wednesday morning, and Dr. Hansen later confirmed his homebred had about a 20-30 percent tear of the tendon.

While he would seek other opinions and treatment options before making a final decision, Dr. Hansen believes the 2011 winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile is probably done racing.

"It's a typical-type tendon injury where if he was a nice claiming horse, you'd give him six months and see how it looks," Dr. Hansen said. "But it's a different ball game I guess when you're looking at potential stallions. It's really sad, I was looking forward to running him in these upcoming races.

"It's swollen bad today so we'll see what it looks like when the swelling is out of it. I don't want him to come back and be 95 percent, I want him to be 100 percent."

After a ninth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, Hansen sat out the rest of the Triple Crown and returned to win the Grade III Iowa Derby by 10 lengths on June 30. The gray colt then finished fourth as the favorite in the Grade II West Virginia Derby on Aug. 4 and his subsequent workout, in hindsight, may have suggested to his owner something was festering.

"I have my suspicions because he should have dominated (the West Virginia Derby)," Dr. Hansen said. "He'll usually go in 1:01 for 5 furlongs, and his last work was in 1:02 and change. Everything looked normal though, he's never had a sore day in his life."

Dr. Hansen added that while he's been in contact with about four or five farms, no deal on Hansen's stud career has been made.

Popular for his glistening white coat — and his owner's passion for promoting him — Hansen won five of nine career starts, including the Grade III Gotham, with $1,810,805 in earnings.

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