Hansen’s Owner: Eccentric and Just What Racing Needs???

This week’s LET IT RIDE.COM HOT TOPIC comes from Rick Bozich of The Courier-Journal…take a read and VOICE AN OPINION!

Fresh air, if not blue hair, planned for Hansen on Derby day

This will give the racing stewards indigestion, but the word from the Hansen camp Saturday was that Dr. Kendall Hansen, the colt’s namesake and majority owner, is not finished jerking on the tail of buttoned-up Kentucky Derby behavior.

No, he isn’t planning to dye the colt’s tail blue, which was the stunt that had the Keeneland stewards hyperventilating before the Blue Grass Stakes two weeks ago. The tail remains nearly white, the same shade as the rest of the thunderous 3-year-old.

Dr. Hansen has other plans to make the Derby crowd wash out: He’s talking with a skywriter about sketching the name of the winner above Churchill Downs at precisely the moment Gov. Steve Beshear is handing him the 2012 Derby trophy.

“I guess I could be in contact with the plane on the phone and call it off if somehow Hansen doesn’t win,” Hansen said. “Or I could have the name of another winner written up there.”

There’s more. Hansen, who runs a pain-management practice in Northern Kentucky, also has purchased about 3,000 miniature stuffed Hansen dolls. He plans to toss them trick-or-treat style at the track, including the glorious pre-Derby walk from the barns to the paddock.

“Racing needs more people like Dr. Hansen,” said Jim Shircliff, a Louisville-based money manager who owns a piece of the colt.

“This whole experience has been like a rocket ship to the moon,” said Dr. Harvey Diamond, another minority owner.

Amen. This is a horse race, not a tax audit. Lift your mint julep cup and enjoy. I don’t know what track management is thinking, but I know what you’re thinking:

How can I get my hands on a miniature Hansen? Collector’s item.

On Saturday morning at Churchill’s Trackside Training Center, Hansen the horse worked five-eighths of a mile for trainer Mike Maker in 1:011/5. It was his final serious Derby work. This is more than a horse with owners celebrating the moment. Hansen won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs last November and has backed up his credentials by winning the Gotham Stakes and finishing second in the Holy Bull and Blue Grass this year.

Dr. Hansen scratched Saturday, booking a weekend escape to the Dominican Republic. He is expected to report to Louisville on Tuesday for the Derby trainers’ dinner. I spoke with him by telephone. When I finished asking questions, he had one for me:

“Do you think I could get the governor to kiss the ground with me (in the winner’s circle),” he asked.

Be prepared, Louisville. The past-performance chart of Hansen (the owner) indicates he will continue to kick up headlines as relentlessly as his colt dropped, rolled and kicked up sand for nearly 10 playful minutes after his Saturday work.

There is an Internet video on which Hansen says: “It’s like you’re 10 years old and you’re waking up and it’s Christmas every morning. I have a big gift, a big, white, 1,100-pound gift that runs fast and is gorgeous and he’s going to win the Kentucky Derby.”

It’s not a hoax. Hansen told me this: “I’d like to do a Spend A Buick (1985 Derby winner) and wire the damn field.”

His A-list material also features the story about how he paid most of his way through Indiana University medical school with winnings from playing the horses. He surprised his co-owners last week by telling the New York Post that he spent the final $8,000 in his Twin Spires account on exotic bets on Breeders’ Cup day, keying Hansen in the Juvenile. He cleared $420,000.

True?

“Yes,” Hansen said. “I hope he’s 7-1 in the Derby. I’ll put $2,000 on the nose to win. It’s the right thing to do.”

Hansen bred the colt with a mare he purchased for $5,000. He retains 75 percent ownership. Shircliff, Diamond and others own the rest.

Shircliff and Diamond are partners in Skychai Racing. They had their first Derby horse, Twinspired, last year. He finished 17th, beating two horses. Their strain of Derby Fever became more potent.

Both grew up in Louisville, Diamond graduating from Seneca High School, Shircliff from Flaget. Diamond has owned horses for nearly three decades. His most unforgettable medical moment was treating people overwhelmed by the heat during the first football game at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in 1998.

Shircliff is the chief investment officer for River Road Asset Management, recently voted one of the best small businesses to work for in Kentucky. He confessed that he took a cash advance on his MasterCard to claim his first horse at Louisville Downs.

“This game is an excellent hedge against capital gains,” Shircliff said with a wink.

His hair is mostly white, like Hansen’s. Diamond’s is predominanty gray. Any possibility the hair-coloring shifts to the owners’ box for the Derby?

“I’m not going to show up with blue hair,” Diamond said. “I’m preferential to InfraRED and black. But I wouldn’t be surprised if one of us showed up with blue or something.”

You have been warned, Louisville.

WHAT’S YOUR TAKE?

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