Hansel set to run in Preakness Will try comeback after poor Derby

May 15, 1991|By Marty McGee ( (TC

The fairy tale had an unhappy ending when Hansel finished 10th in the Kentucky Derby as the favorite.

But Hansel is back on the Triple Crown trail. Trainer Frank Brothers said yesterday the colt will run in Saturday's 116th Preakness at Pimlico Race Course, increasing the number of probable starters in the 1 3/16-mile classic to eight.

"It wasn't a very easy decision," Brothers said from his training base at Arlington International Racecourse near Chicago. "In good faith to the horse, I could see no reason why we shouldn't come. I feel he belongs with the best horses."

Brothers sent Hansel out for a three-furlong breeze yesterday morning, then conferred with owner Joe Allbritton of Lazy Lane Farms. The colt went in 35 seconds, then galloped out a half-mile in 47 seconds.

"He's trained well in the 10 days since we got here from Churchill Downs," said Brothers. "You guys [reporters] ask five minutes after the Derby if we're going to run back in the Preakness. Sometimes that's an easy decision; sometimes it's not.

"There was no excuse in the Derby. We're just going to try again, that's all. He'll leave on a van [yesterday afternoon] and be there first thing in the morning."

A strong workout for Hansel was one of the factors that convinced Brothers to try again.

"He worked well in hand," said Brothers, 44. "He was very aggressive and acted like he really wanted to do it. He has kept his presence and is doing very well."

Hansel, a son of the Mr. Prospector sire, Woodman, pressed the pace for a mile from a favorable outside position in the Derby before fading to 10th, beaten nearly 11 lengths.

His loss was the 12th straight in the Derby for the favorite; Spectacular Bid, in 1979, was the last betting choice to win it. Since then, only Snow Chief in 1986 has rebounded as a losing choice to win the Preakness.

Hansel, easy winner of the Jim Beam and Lexington stakes in his two races before the Derby, was 5-2 in the Derby. He was followed in the wagering by the other three of the Derby's Big Four: Fly So Free (3-1), Strike the Gold (9-2) and Best Pal (5-1).

With Hansel in the Preakness, only Fly So Free, fifth in the Derby, is missing from the Big Four. Strike the Gold and Best Pal finished 1-2 in the Derby.

L Brothers said he would retain jockey Jerry Bailey on Hansel.

The Preakness still could get a ninth starter. Trainer Dave Monaci is undecided whether to enter Subordinated Debt, winner of the Withers Stakes at Belmont Park May 8, in the Preakness. Entries will be drawn tomorrow.

Hansel's late entry came on an otherwise quiet day. With four candidates having had their last serious workouts for the race Monday, activity was at a minimum.

Honor Grades, the half-brother to 1990 Preakness winner Summer Squall, was the only one of those already stabled at Pimlico to go to the track for a blowout.

With Gregg McCarron as exercise rider, the Danzig colt worked five furlongs in 58 3/5 seconds. Trainer Rodney Rash said the drill was a tad faster than what he wanted, "but we have four days to come back.

"When you have a young horse that has always been lackadaisical and lazy and one never interested in his works . . . you would hope it tells you he is on the improve," said Rash, 31.

Honor Grades last started in the Derby Trial, finishing second behind Alydavid. That effort represented the first starter in the career of Rash, a Carroll County native who worked for Charlie Whittingham for 16 years. Rash said he has "about 15 horses" awaiting him when he returns to Southern California.

McCarron, whose younger brother, Chris, will ride Honor Grades, was also aboard Olympio for his last work.

"I think Strike the Gold is the horse to beat," he said. "but I like Olympio, too. And I'd like to see Chris win, naturally."

Best Pal, to be ridden by Gary Stevens, was one of several starters to enjoy a leisurely walk around the shed row yesterday morning.

Stevens, at Pimlico to ride Farma Way to victory in Saturday's Pimlico Special, said things should be different in the Preakness for Best Pal than in the Derby.

"It's a shorter stretch here, and it's a shorter race," he said. "Speed is a little more advantageous here than at Churchill Downs. It's going to be a much smaller field, so it is going to give me more options than what I had in the Kentucky Derby in the 15 hole.

"My horse has speed from the gate, and I look for him to be laying up fairly close and sitting in a striking position around the quarter pole."

A victory by Best Pal, the probable third choice, would be the first by a gelding in the Preakness since Holiday won in 1914.

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