Fast and Accurate pulls surprise to win Spiral Stakes

FLORENCE, Ky. -- Kendall Hansen couldn't help himself. The pain-management doctor known in racing circles for his outlandish tendencies got down on his knees to kiss the Turfway Park ground Saturday just minutes after his longshot colt, Fast and Accurate, pulled a stunning 24-1 upset in the 46th running of the Grade 3, $500,000 Spiral Stakes, the annual Turfway showcase.

Hansen said he has a far greater appreciation for horse racing since his namesake champion, Hansen, was sold to Korean interests in late 2013.

"I never thought I'd get to the Kentucky Derby again," said Hansen, who fought back tears on several occasions in the race aftermath.

In winning the 1 1/8-mile Polytrack race by three-quarters of a length, Fast and Accurate earned 50 qualifying points into the May 6 Kentucky Derby, enough to assure him of a berth. Fast and Accurate, from the only American-based crop sired by 2011 juvenile champion Hansen, is not a Triple Crown nominee, meaning his owner will have to pay a $200,000 supplementary fee to compete. Asked whether he will proceed to the Derby, Hansen replied in the affirmative.

"[expletive] yeah," he said.

Fast and Accurate, always close to the pace when ridden by Tyler Gaffalione for trainer Mike Maker, returned $51 after finishing in 1:50.96 in leading a parade of longshots to the wire. Blueridge Traveler, a 35-1 shot, rallied late to finish second, a half-length before Convict Pike, a 10-1 shot. Kitten's Cat, the 5-2 favorite in a field of 11 3-year-olds, was fourth.

"The race set up beautifully," said Gaffalione, the Florida-based jockey whose previous richest win came last fall in the $500,000 My Dear Girl at Gulfstream. "I looked to the outside and I saw [En Hanse] going to the lead, and [Maker] told me if the other one broke better to just sit behind him. We had a beautiful trip going into the far turn. I put him on the outside and he just hit another gear. Down the lane he just kept lengthening his stride."

As much an outsider as Fast and Accurate was in the Spiral -- the gray colt won a $30,000 maiden claiming race in December at Turfway, and then won a starter-allowance stakes on the Gulfstream Park turf -- he will be an even bigger longshot in the Derby. That doesn't much matter to Hansen, whose fondness for the public spotlight peaked during the spring of 2012, when he attempted to run Hansen in the Blue Grass with the colt's mane dyed blue (he was ultimately denied). Hansen ran second as the favorite in the Blue Grass and ninth in the Derby before going to stud the following year.

In the background amid all this hoopla has been Maker, who won his fourth Spiral when saddling Fast and Accurate. Maker also sent out En Hanse, also owned by Hansen, who set the pace to the quarter pole before fading to ninth.

Asked why Fast and Accurate was risked for a claiming tag in December, Maker said: "He's a Pennsylvania-bred and we didn't think anyone would [claim] him. Plus we wanted to get more winners for Hansen [the sire]."

In winning the Gulfstream race on Presidents Day, Feb. 20, Fast and Accurate "overcame some travel difficulties" when arriving the day beforehand from Kentucky, said Maker. "I know he led all the way to win, but actually the race really impressed me," he added.

Fast and Accurate will train toward the Derby over the six-furlong dirt track at Maker's primary base, the Trackside training center, located just a few miles from Churchill Downs in Louisville.

Maker's prior Spiral winners were With a City (48-1 in 2006), Dean's Kitten (6-1 in 2010), and Oscar Nominated (23-1 in 2016). Oscar Nominated, owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, also had to be supplemented for $200,000 to the Derby, in which the colt ran 17th at 42-1.

After the top four, the order was Bronson, Giant Payday, Soglio, Parlor, En Hanse, King and His Court, and Colonel Samsen.

The Spiral has produced two Derby winners: Lil E. Tee in 1992 and Animal Kingdom in 2011.

The $2 exacta (3-1) paid $799.80, the $1 trifecta (3-1-4) returned $2,819.50, and the 10-cent superfecta (3-1-4-8) was worth $3,075.12.

The Spiral, the 10th of 12 Saturday races, was part of a pick four wager (races 8-11) that returned $79,436 for 50 cents. Only two winning 50-cent tickets were sold on the 3-10-3-2 combination.