HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Kendall Hansen and Sky Chai Racing’s undefeated 2011 Eclipse champion 2-year-old Hansen takes his first steps toward the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Triple Crown trail as the flashy roan/gray colt launches his 3-year-old campaign in Sunday’s $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3) going a mile at Gulfstream Park.

Jockey Ramon Dominguez will be back in the saddle on Hansen for trainer Mike Maker after they teamed up for a stunning wire-to-wire victory by a head over heavy favorite Union Rags in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5. A Kentucky homebred by Tapit, Hansen had won both of his previous starts at Turfway Park by double-digit margins. He’s the 6-5 favorite.

“We’ve had no bumps in the road,” said Maker of Hansen’s training ahead of his return to competition. “Hopefully, that trend continues.” Hansen has gone wire-to-wire in all three starts. “It’s no different than a closer. You’re dependant on the pace. You just hope no one makes him go quicker earlier than he has to.”

Hansen faces five rivals in the Holy Bull, led by Starlight Stable’s Algorithms from the arsenal of 3-year-old talent in the Todd Pletcher barn this winter. A son of Bernardini, Algorithms has won both of his career stars, his debut at Belmont Park in June by 5 ¼ lengths and a hard-fought one-length allowance score at 6 ½ furlongs here on Dec. 16. Leading Gulfstream jockey Javier Castellano gets the return call. Algorithms is 5-2 in the morning line.

“He’s trained very well,” Pletcher said. “His first two races have been excellent, he’s bred to stretch out and we’re optimistic he’s a top-level colt.”

Godolphin Racing’s Consortium finished a game second as the 4-to-5 favorite to Algorithms in the on Dec. 16, beaten a length, and comes back in the Holy Bull with jockey John Velazquez aboard for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. The Kentucky homebred is also a son of highly-successful Darley stallion Bernardini and won his only previous start at Aqueduct on Nov. 12 by 4 ¾ lengths.

Jacks or Better Farm’s homebred Fort Loudon also makes his first start since the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill in which he finished seventh with a wide trip from the far outside post 13, beaten nine lengths for it all by Hansen. Jockey Rajiv Maragh rides Fort Loudon for trainer Stanley Gold. The son of Awesome of Course swept the three ‘open’ divisions of the Florida Stallion Stakes at Calder before the Juvenile.

Completing the field for the Holy Bull are Lori and George Hall’s My Adonis, Elvis Trujillo; and Mark Bacon’s Silver Max, Julien Leparoux.


Sacristy & Say a Novena Clash Again in Forward Gal

Peachtree Stable’s 3-year-old filly Sacristy has gone from strength to strength in her four career starts for trainer Wayne Catalano, winning the $100,000 Old Hat Stakes (G3) by 1 ¾ lengths at Gulfstream Park last out on New Year’s Day, and will likely be favored to take another step up in the $200,000 Forward Gal Stakes (G2) Sunday.

Jockey Kent Desormeaux has ridden Sacristy in her last three starts and will be back aboard in the seven-furlong Forward Gal. The dark bay daughter of Pulpit began her career finishing second in maiden special events at Arlington Park and Keeneland before breaking through to score by 6 ¾ lengths at Churchill Downs going 6 ½ furlongs on Nov. 10 before shipping south for the winter.

“We’re happy with the way she’s training and we’re looking forward to Sunday’s race,” Catalano said.

Rallying to finish second in the Old Hat and coming back in the Forward Gal will be Rick Shanley’s Say a Novena with jockey Elvis Trujillo in the saddle for trainer Eddie Plesa, Jr. The daughter of Songandaprayer posted three wins and two seconds from seven starts last year, winning stakes at Monmouth Park and Parx before a 10th-place finish from post 14 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4.

“We’re looking forward to this race’ said Plesa Thursday morning. “We know she likes the distance. She got back a little farther then we thought she would in her last race, and got some dirt kicked in her face, but we were pleased with her race. We’re going to put ‘blinkers on’ and that should keep her more focused and put her in more of a stalking position for this race.”

Also certain to attract support will be E. Paul Robsham Stable’s Broadway Alibi with jockey John Velazquez in the saddle for leading trainer Todd Pletcher. The Kentucky homebred by Vindication finished second in her debut at Delaware Park on August 20 before breaking her maiden there by seven lengths in her next start on Sept. 10. In one start since, she romped home a five-length winner of a 6 ½-furlong allowance here on Dec. 15.

The ‘wild card’ entry in the Forward Gal is Elaine, Richard and Bertram Klein’s Good Deed invading from New Orleans for trainer Steve Margolis with jockey Corey Lanerie along for the ride. The Kentucky homebred daughter of Broken Vow has won her last three of four career starts impressively over three different racetracks, most recently the Letelier Memorial going six furlongs at Fair Grounds on Dec. 18 by three lengths.

Completing the field for the Forward Gal are Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence’s Quick Flip, Rajiv Maragh; and Peras International’s Yara, Luis Saze.