TOYOTA BLUE GRASS STAKES | PURSE: $750,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS | GRADE 1 | 1 1/8 MILES
Dullahan, with big strides down the center of the racetrack, ran down champion Hansen in the late stages to win the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths April 14 at Keeneland. Kent Desormeaux guided the son of Even the Score for trainer Dale Romans. He is owned by Donegal Racing.
The time of 1:47.94 for 1 1/8 miles was a new stakes record on the Keeneland Polytrack.
When last seen at Keeneland, Dullahan won the Breeders' Futurity last fall, and his brilliant run in the Blue Grass was not all that different than that come-from-behind victory. The chestnut colt was near the back of the field for much of the way while saving ground under Desormeaux, angled out near the quarter-pole, and charged through the center of stretch to collar Hansen, who had set the pace from the outset.
Dullahan, who made his season debut last month when running second to Howe Great in the Palm Beach on the Gulfstream Park turf, will make his next stop at Churchill Downs for the May 5 Kentucky Derby. A half-brother to 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, he is out of the Smart Strike mare Mining My Own.
The winner was bred in Kentucky by Phil Needham, Judy Needham, and Bena Halecky. He was purchased for $250,000 by Donegal Racing's president Jerry Crawford at the Keeneland September 2010 yearling sale. BonaTterra Stud, agent, consigned him.
Hansen, the champion 2-year-old colt from last year, entered the Blue Grass off a dominating victory in the March 3 Gotham at Aqueduct. In that race he rated off the early leader, but under Ramon Dominguez went straight to the front this time. And for the first mile it looked like a one-horse race, as Hansen strolled uncontested on an easy lead. The fractions were testing however; he posted splits of :23.10, :46.64, 1:11.32, and 1:35.46.
Politicallycorrect, Midnight Crooner, Gung Ho, and Hero of Order were all part of the early pack chasing the leader. Meanwhile, Dullahan was racing close to the inside while near the back of the field before making up ground on the turn. Approaching the quarter-pole Desormeaux decided it was time to make their move, and Dullahan split horses on his way into the lane. Gung Ho, sent off at 31-1, was closest to Hansen at the top of stretch, but the speedy son of Tapit had a 1 1/2–length lead at the eighth-pole.
It was deep inside the sixteenth-pole that Dullahan was finally able to run down Hansen, who was sent off as the 6-5 favorite in a field of 13. Dullahan was the 3-1 second choice.
Gung Ho finished third under Edgar Prado, giving trainer Mike Maker a two-three finish. Holy Candy was fourth.
Dullahan raced six times as a juvenile, winning just once but finishing on the bard three other times including a third in the With Anticipation on the Saratoga turf. He was fourth to Hansen in the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs.
The Blue Grass victory upped Dullahan's earnings to $872,091
Dullahan paid $8.40, $3.60, and $3. Hansen returned $3 and $2.60, and completed a $23.60 exacta. The trifecta (6-4-2) was worth $329.
Howe Great was fifth, followed by Prospective, Heavy Breathing, Minight Crooner, Scatman, Ever So Lucky, Russian Greek, Politicallycorrect, and Hero of Order.