By Tom LaMarra, @BH_TLaMarra
Stewards at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort approved the request to alter the colt's tail color, West Virginia Racing Commission deputy attorney general Kelli Talbott said July 31. Hansen's tail was dyed blue before the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland in April, but the coloring was washed out before the race after the incident created a stir with stewards.
"I don't think that this really reached the commission approval level (in West Virginia)," Talbott said.
Kendall Hansen, on a July 31 media teleconference, said the tail coloring is "for the horse's young fans, and people who think they are young. I think people are interested in seeing it done once whether they like it or not."
Hansen, a Mike Maker-trained Kentucky homebred by Tapit , won the 1 1/16-mile Iowa Derby (gr. III) by 10 lengths. He will attempt to win his first race at 1 1/8 miles in the West Virginia Derby, a $750,000 event that offers a $150,000 bonus to the winner if the horse has won a grade I stakes.
Hansen won last year's grade I Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile and was voted champion 2-year-old male of 2011.
Hansen said he will continue a tradition of handing out Hansen "squishy" toys, but this time the foam horse will have a blue tail. He said some of his "girls" probably will be on hand at Mountaineer to mingle with patrons and hand out the toys.
Hansen the horse worked at the Churchill Downs Training Center July 31 to prepare for the West Virginia Derby. The colt was timed in :52 1/5 for four furlongs on a fast track.
"It was just a maintenance work--he's on go," Hansen said. "Mike said he thinks (Hansen) is better than he has ever been going into this race."
The Travers Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course in late August remains a near-term goal, but Kendall Hansen also said he wants the colt to continue racing beyond this year.
"I'm shocked at how many people love this white horse," he said. "I have a responsibility to make sure he races as a 4-year-old or 5-year-old. So we're picking our spots with him."