Thesari Jetes

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Colt’s Owner Seeks to Create a Horse of a Different Color

...( Thesari Jetes )...

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Dr. Kendall Hansen is a man of many words. Mike Maker, the trainer of Hansen’s namesake colt, is just the opposite

“You ask him, ‘How did Hansen work today?’ ” said Hansen, who operates a pain management clinic in Crestview Hills, Ky., referring to Maker. “And he’ll say, ‘Great.’ And then there’s a long pause.”
The two exchanged words in the paddock before Hansen, the doctor’s nearly white colt, ran his final prep race for the Kentucky Derby, the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. That day, Hansen had his colt’s tail dyed blue to match his racing silks, Maker had the color washed out, and Hansen nearly dyed it again.
Maker said the stewards had told him the horse could be scratched if he showed up at the gate with a blue tail. Hansen, however, persuaded the stewards not to levy such a penalty. Maker, who said he could not reach Hansen because of poor cellphone service, never got the word.
The horse finished second to Dullahan.
Hansen acknowledged that fussing with the tail “probably didn’t help.”
Maker said: “Some of it was a distraction, but do I think it cost us the difference between first and second? No, I don’t.”
Hansen, 56, and Maker, 43, grew up near Detroit. Hansen’s grandfather, Harvey, was the president of the Detroit Tigers in the late 1950s. Maker’s father, George, was a trainer at the Detroit Race Course, now closed, and Hazel Park in Michigan.
At age 13, Maker bought his first horse with money he earned working for his father and delivering newspapers; the horse won the first time he raced. He later became a trainer like his father, working under the Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas before going it alone.
“Wayne was always the best of everything as far as with the horse,” said Maker, who has his fifth Derby horse in Hansen. “Great organizational skills, and his speaking talents are second to none. He was like a second father to me.”
Before going to medical school, Hansen learned handicapping from an older co-worker at a Ford plant in Indianapolis. Hansen studied racing forms, read books and practiced. When he had found two races in a row he liked in St. Louis, he jumped in his car after work and made it there in time to place a winning daily-double bet.
“I bet $70 and got $1,600 back within 30 to 40 minutes,” Hansen said. “It felt like I robbed the place. And at that time I thought, Oh, my God, everybody said it can’t be done; you can’t make money betting horses as a job. And when everybody told me I couldn’t do it, that’s when I wanted to do it.”
Hansen, always up for a challenge, put off medical school and became a full-time horseplayer. He owned three horses before leaving the game to become a doctor like his father. But he never let go of the sport he loved.
Hansen relishes the spotlight. He insisted that his Derby horse was named for his family, not himself. Married three times — “every 10 years,” he joked — Hansen is engaged to a Ukrainian woman whom he calls his soul mate. Because of visa issues, she has not been able to watch Hansen race in person. The colt’s full brother Tapanna, who was sired by Tapit, is named after “two women named Anna that I was dating at the time,” Hansen said.
“They knew about it,” he added.
At tradition-rich Keeneland last month, Hansen surrounded himself with female employees with blue tails affixed to the backs of their form-fitting white dresses with patches that screamed Hansen in glitter. They wore hats with blue feathers that resembled a horse’s mane. Hansen said he had ordered the accessories from Las Vegas.
At Churchill Downs, Hansen hosted more than 200 people, including relatives and fraternity brothers. He passed out white Hansen squeeze-toy horses, which he had first ordered for his patients. His employees donned their tails on the party circuit.

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