Hansen's tail is simply to dye for
Dr. Kendall Hansen's dream of running Hansen as a blue horse took a colorful turn before the $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes on Saturday. Now, he's got to smooth things over with Mike Maker, the trainer of his Kentucky Derby hopeful.
''It kind of hurt me and Mike's relationship,'' Dr. Hansen told The Associated Press on Saturday night. ''We're going to have to talk it out. It was just a lack of communication. I went to a lot of effort to get this thing arranged.''
Lindsay Hunter of Silverstone Equicenter says she dyed the lower half of Hansen's tail on Saturday morning. The color was royal blue — the same shade featured prominently at the University of Kentucky and part of Dr. Hansen's racing silks.
Dr. Hansen, who initially had the idea before it was squashed by New York racing officials before the Gotham Stakes, went to the racing stewards' office at Keeneland. Hansen's blue tail was later washed out.
''It's craziness,'' Hunter said.
Hansen said he couldn't connect with Maker by cell phone at Keeneland with a record crowd of 40,617 on the grounds, and that's where the miscommunication started.
''The thing that screwed it up was one of the stewards came down and talked to Mike personally early in the day and said if we brought him over with a blue tail, they'd scratch him. Then I went over and talked to the stewards and they said there was no way they would scratch him. They'd probably fine me or something,'' Dr. Hansen said. ''So, I couldn't get that information to Mike. It might have made a little bit more national news if he pulled it off. It's disappointing for me.''
Hunter contacted Dr. Hansen in the weeks after the Gotham Stakes and said she would be willing to color the horse. She had done the same thing to show horses.
She dyed the 3-year-old colt early Saturday morning, but it was washed out in the afternoon after Dr. Hansen met with the racing steward. Maker was against dying the horse's hair, Hunter said.
Hansen was run down in the final furlong and finished second behind Dullahan. Maker said the kerfuffle with the tail was ''probably minor'' in the outcome of the race.
''It wasn't something that you wanted — to keep going in there and aggravating the horse,'' Maker said. ''That's what happened. You want to kind of just let him get out and do his job and leave him alone. But that's just me.''
Chief state steward Barbara Borden said they had heard rumors that Dr. Hansen, who runs a pain management clinic in Crestview Hills, was planning to dye the tail, but if the horse wasn't sporting a blue tail in the paddock then there was ''no harm, no foul.''
Hunter said the decision by Dr. Hansen was a unique way to garner more interest in the sport.
''I think that Dr. Hansen's idea that maybe doing something like this would attract a younger part of the population into horse racing,'' Hunter said. ''I think that Kentucky badly needs a shot in the arm to that and it was something that people would talk about and it would bring them to the track. I think it's all for the good.''
Dr. Hansen agrees that he's a unique character and wanted to color the horse for children who are fans.
I'm a little different,'' he said. ''He's got a lot of fans that are kids. They think they're watching Pegasus or some fairy tale-type horse and there were just pictures of him with a colored tail. I just got the idea in my head (to do it).''