Prairie Meadows Race Track & Casino wraps up its 2017 Thoroughbred season with a ten-race “Iowa Classic Day” card on Saturday, Aug. 12, starting at 4 PM CT.
The traditional meet-ending program puts the spotlight on Iowa-breds with seven stakes races on the docket, including the 29th running of the $103,500 Iowa Breeders’ Derby. And that’s where you’ll find arguably the most interesting Iowa-bred competing on the last day of the 2017 meet: Kendall Hansen’s three-year-old gelding Han Sense. The grey/roan son of Hansen is the 9-5 morning line favorite in a field of eight signed on to run the mile and one-sixteenth of the Derby for the top prize of $61,250.
While Han Sense is clearly the top money-earner in the race with lifetime winnings of $150,665, the gelding still has only one victory to his credit. That win came a year ago on Iowa Classic Day when the Mike Maker trainee shipped to Prairie Meadows as an unraced two-year-old for his career debut in the $90,000 Iowa Cradle.
Off slowly as the 6-5 favorite, Han Sense rallied late under jockey Ramon Vazquez to score by a length and one-half over Dreamin The Dream and Major Mingo.
Most recently, Han Sense ran close up early as a 50-1 longshot, but faded to eighth, in the Grade III $500,000 Indiana Derby at Indiana Grand on July 15. That failure came six weeks after his second trip to Iowa for the $64,000 Grays Lake Stakes at six furlongs on June 3, when Han Sense uncorked a late rally, again under Vazquez, but came up a half-length short of winner and 9-5 favorite Molleck, one of his foes in the 2017 Derby.
But those three races seem fairly routine compared to the other outings found in his running lines in 2016 and 2017, which show a total of 10 races at eight different tracks, including a pair of $250,000 stakes races earlier this year at Meydan. Most of the races have been against better foes than Han Sense will face on Saturday, including a fifth (beaten six lengths) in the $350,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile in September, a second (beaten 10 lengths) in the $200,000 Nashua (G2) at Aqueduct in November, and a 10th (beaten 13 lengths) in the $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2), won by McCraken, in November.
All that said, Han Sense deserves to be the morning line favorite in the Iowa Breeders’ Derby and leading rider Vazquez should have him rolling late and up in time for his second career victory.