Hansen or Union Rags for 2YO Champion?

As a quick follow up to the post Breeders' Cup blog, it seems that voting shows most people believe Havre de Grace is the front-runner for Horse of the Year. All things being considered, she is the right the choice, even if it's by default.

Flat Out, Ruler On Ice, and maybe even Drosselmeyer are possible for the Clark Handicap, but even if one of them were to win I don't see it having any bearing on Horse of the Year. A win by Flat Out or Drosselmeyer may affect the champion older horse voting, and a Ruler On Ice win might allow him to pick up additional votes for 3-year-old champ, but none of them would likely surpass Havre de Grace for Horse of the Year from what I can tell.

At this point, the only horse I believe could surpass Havre de Grace with another victory is Game On Dude, and I haven't heard whether Baffert intends to run him again this year.

Let's move on to the champion 2-year-old male, which will probably wind up being the most contentious division. Let's see how the voting comes out in our unofficial poll.

Comparing the two main contenders, Union Rags has won the grade I Champagne and the grade II Saratoga Special--both by large margins. He also broke his maiden at Delaware Park.

Hansen also has three wins, a maiden special weight and the ungraded Kentucky Cup Juvenile--both at Turfway Park--and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile when defeating Union Rags by a head.

Which résumé is more impressive? Looking back at history, there is precedence for both sides.

For those in the Union Rags camp you can look back to 1988. Easy Goer won the grade I Champagne and grade I Cowdin-both at Belmont-and had two other wins that season. He finished second by 1 1/4 lengths to Is It True at muddy Churchill in the BC Juvenile but still won the Eclipse Award. However, Is It True had just one win prior to the BC Juvenile--a maiden win--and had already been beaten twice by Easy Goer.

Another pro-Union Rags example was in 1993. Dehere had won five races prior to the BC Juvenile, including the grade I Champagne and grade I Hopeful, grade II Saratoga Special, and grade III Sanford. He wound up finishing eighth to Brocco as the odds-on choice in the BC Juvenile but still won the Eclipse Award. Brocco was 3-for-3 after his five-length BC Juvenile score, but then finished second in the Hollywood Futurity to end his season.

If you're in the Hansen camp, you can look back to 2001. Johannesburg made only one North American start, a win in the BC Cup Juvenile at Belmont. He won the Eclipse Award over Officer, who finished fifth in that race as the odds-on favorite. But Officer had five previous wins that year, including the grade III Best Pal, grade II Del Mar Futurity, and grade I Champagne.

Or, you can go back to 1987, 1995, and 2004 when horses won the BC Juvenile but none of them won the championship. In each case horses that didn't even start in the Breeders' Cup (Forty Niner, Maria's Mon, and Declan's Moon) wound up taking home the hardware.

The above examples are not perfect, as the circumstances surrounding all of them are a bit different. But they show how heavily, or in some cases how lightly, voters took the Breeders' Cup outcome.

I expect the voting to be very close this year and Union Rags to get the nod.


Leave a Comment:


Wait, Union Rags got beat fair and square and he still deserves the award? I thought head to head match ups were important to you Jason. Hansen dusted Union Rags, who may have lost ground on both turns but that's no excuse. If he was the better horse who would have won anyway. Isn't that right Jason? The best horse will always win, especially at the Breeders Cup. Doesn't matter what kind of trip you have or how close you come to winning, if the other horse wins the head bob they are clearly better, case closed! Or maybe it's possible that horse racing isn't quite that simple, but for now I'll take the Jason Shandler approach.

10 Nov 2011 4:17 PM

Why do you note that Union Rags won two of his races by wide margins but omit the fact that Hansen won his first two races by over 12 lengths each?

It's almost as if you're dishonestly stacking your argument in one direction.

10 Nov 2011 4:20 PM
Carlos in Cali

Head to Head matchups is the end-all-be-all.. ain't that right Jason?

Hansen.They both have a Gr.I win,but the BCJ should carry more weight.Plus he ran one of the most impressive race throughout the BC weekend if that counts for anything.The speedball was at a distinct disadvantage before he was even saddled.

10 Nov 2011 4:44 PM
Kinga Kowalczyk

I agree with both of you guys. Hansen is clearly being shown with the wrong side here. It's not fair to state that Union Rags won both his starts impressively, and dismiss the obvious about Hansen. Personally, I think Hansen is no fluke and is a champion in the making. People just don't see it yet but come next season and he will show his true colours. He showed so much courage in the BC Juvenile to hold off the impressive Union Rags, and he deserves to be noticed for that.

10 Nov 2011 4:44 PM

Jason aren't you the one that is always saying that the award is decided on the track. Not only did you pad your article, but once again you failed to recognnize a talent you have chosen not to like. Hansen won his first 2 races decisively. No questions asked. Straight and true. Then when he was asked to step up to the plate he delivered. Union Rags ran 2 very good races, but in the Saratoga Special he did the same thing he did in the BCJ. Serve badly, and this cost him this time. Hansen ran the more professional race. Union Rags for even having 2 stakes races under his belt before the BCC still runs green. Hansen ran the best race. He won case closed. He should get 2 year old champion. Look at your own poll.

10 Nov 2011 4:47 PM
Carlos in Cali

Also,Hansen went from a double digit 5 1/2f maiden victory to a 12 1/2L win @ 1 1/16 in a span of 2wks at TP.Then he came back and took a major class hike and wired the field in the Juvy going against the bias,that's way too impressive not to get recognized.

10 Nov 2011 4:51 PM
Splits of 12

Hansen is a very nice animal, and is certainly deserving of the 2- year old of the year. But I feel Union Rags is a better horse. He may not have been on Breeders Cup day and the fact that he was 5 wide on the backstretch and veered outside in the stretch and still re-rallied to get within a nose of winning, is a testament to Union Rags, who looks to be all heart. I think Hansen should get the award, but it'll be Union Rags who will be the one to watch next year!  

10 Nov 2011 4:57 PM
Karen in Texas

Both of these colts seem to hold  much promise for the future! No matter which one wins the Eclipse, it would be so exciting and gratifying to watch them remain healthy and competitive through the spring preps. Although I like the top three finishers in the Juvenile, Hansen just looks "special" to me. Union Rags has four starts at 5f., 6 1/2f., 1 mile, and 1 1/16 miles with wins in the first three of those races. Hansen has three starts at 5 1/2f., 1 1/16 miles and 1 1/16 miles with wins in all three. Two wins at over a mile on two different surfaces--is that significant? I voted for Hansen in the poll, but can see either colt with the award.

10 Nov 2011 5:06 PM
Carlos in Cali

Everyone has their opinion,but one 'Criminal Mind' thinks Union Rags deserves it simply because he has a higher beyer fig & has shown more versatility while Hansen ONLY goes wire-to-wire... seriously,no BS.It's amazing how some folks' mind works!

10 Nov 2011 5:12 PM
Stephie Clare

Hansen!  He was a white streak going around that track on Saturday.  I can't understand why he's not getting respect.  That was my favorite BC race.  He won the big one fair and square.

10 Nov 2011 5:19 PM

Zenyatta was still HOY after being beat by Blame.  I cast my vote for Union Rags.

10 Nov 2011 5:27 PM

I am hoping that Union Rags is the champion juvenile colt simply because I believe he will develop on as a three year old and I am not sold on Hansen.  The last time a two year old champion was voted who finished second by a narrow margin was Lookin At Lucky, who followed up his Breeders Cup Juvenile loss with a win in the Cash Call Futurity.  It's not likely either juvenile will be starting again this year so we will just have to go on their performances.

Those who consider the report during the Breeders Cup telecast that Union Rags traveled 78 feet farther than Hansen and had a higher average speed plus the colt's previous races against top competition may vote for Union Rags who many agree is still the early Kentucky Derby favorite.

Those who were impressed with Hansen's refusal to be passed and how he continued on in the stretch to prevail in the Breeders Cup Juvenile as enough of a test to certify his quality could not be blamed with a vote for Hansen.  

Either vote will be understandable, Tapit has been signaling for sometime with his runners that eventually he will get the big horse and does not seem to be just a filly sire.

I like that Union Rags descends from Terpsichorist who was a nice grass filly by Nijinsky II.

Those who

10 Nov 2011 5:32 PM

Neither-Creative Cause gets my vote.

10 Nov 2011 5:50 PM
Jason Shandler

I pointed out that Union Rags won those races by large margins because they were in graded races. Hansen's weren't. Some of you people are such crybabies, it's pretty pathetic.

10 Nov 2011 5:58 PM
Paula Higgins

I vote for Union Rags. In my opinion he is the better horse. Next year will tell the story I think. But if Hansen gets it, I will understand the reasoning. Very much like the year Rachel won over Zenyatta. Both sides had reasonable arguments.

10 Nov 2011 6:37 PM


Yes indeed the voting is going to be close and the outcome contentious but that's okay: it augurs well for an exciting Triple Crown rivalry next Spring.  The colt with the more substantive resume, Union Rags should get the nod over his very worthy rival Hansen. I'll embelish my reasons, posted in your previous blog, for choosing Union Rags:

I think that the Dixie Union colt gets it by "the flair of a nostril" because his superior body of work (four telling performances including victory in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special and the Grade One Champagne) makes up for his "short head" loss in the BC Juvenile to his flashy rival Hansen. Also, given the context of the race itself: bad draw, wide trip, faulty ride from J. Castellano for the third "straight" time, and just failing narrowly to peg back his gallant foe that had a garden passage out front,gives him a decisive edge as the better horse right now.

Hansen is undoubtedly a monster in the making and displayed the heart of a champion down the stretch by digging in and holding on when challenged but his margin of victory and lighter body of work (two facile victories against very light competition at Turfway Park prior to the BC Juvenile) isn't enough to deny Union Rags the championship honours from my vantage point.  This son of Tapit is an exciting 2YO colt with a bold front running style, high cruising speed, stamina, good pedigree and plenty of class, qualities that I like a lot in a racehorse, thefore I wouldn't protest if voters anointed him the 2YO champion.

However it needs to be said that in contemplating these championship awards, the results i.e. order of finish of the Breeder's Cup races are not the be-all-end-all (no reference is being made to the HOTY controversies of the last two years ...please!!). Its only reasonable that overall performances for the ENTIRE YEAR UNDER CONSIDERATION be taken into account along with certain intangibles such as: perceived ducking of formidable competiton, tough-luck losses and creditable performances against top competition including coming off lay-offs due to injury etc. Champions ought not to be penalized for demonstrating heart and toughness in narrow losses where he/she is clearly the best and has done more in terms of facing tougher opposition all year with good success IMO. Some narrow losses should amount to no loss of marks (no penalty) in defeat. Havre de Grace's loss to Blind Luck earlier this year, Zenyatta's loss to Blame in last years BC Classic (I'm nervous about citing this example) and Union Rags' loss to Hansen in the BC Juvenile are cases in point.  I hope that the Eclipse awards voters take all relevant factors into consideration and do the right thing.

10 Nov 2011 6:44 PM

Hmm, So I have watched Hansen from his first race and after seeing Union Rags on the news feed, I knew he would be something to watch. Having a feeling this colts would meet, I continued to watch each and every race ran.

However, Hansen has always grabbed by heart from his name to his color, to the way he runs. An oddity, nonetheless. So I am leaning toward him, but I kept an open mind toward Union Rags. After seeing the BC, I knew he was it. I'd like to point out that Hansen ran front from start to finish. Something that has been done in years. This may be his running style, but it shows that most horses cannot often keep this up specifically in a race like this run. Union Rags may have had a rough trip, but you also have to look as Hansen's trip.

10 Nov 2011 6:52 PM

Jason is right.  Union Rags won graded races, so you have to assume his competition was stronger.  But Hansen won the BC and ran extremely well against the bias of the track. Either would be fine with me, but imo Union Rags races before the BC carry more weight.

10 Nov 2011 6:54 PM

On the track, Hansen won.

On the pedigree, Union Rags, who I really like, is sired by a sprinter.  (weren't we all down this path last year with UM?)

Hansen, who I also really like, boasts Seattle Slew, Secretariat, Mr Prospector, Northern Dancer, and Damascus to name a few.

Oh..we're not talking about the Triple Crown?

The BC Juvenile is somehow not a graded stakes race?  And here, I thought it was a Grade 1 race...silly me.

Jason...Union Rags lost.  Get over it!

10 Nov 2011 7:07 PM
Jason Shandler

Its been over a year people. One year. Dont you think it's time to move on with your lives? No matter how much you cry, dream, pray, it wont change things. She lost the final race of her career and there is no changing that. I hope one day you will be able to find peace in your lives. Maybe one day I'll host an intervention on this blog. I'm open to suggestions regarding the format.

Until then, I'll talk to you later. I'm off to St. Thomas for a few days for some fun and relaxation. Thanks Blame. One year later and you're still repaying me.  

10 Nov 2011 7:15 PM

My goodness,  Why are all these horses retiring to the breeding sheds so early?   Just about all the horses that ran in the BC races last weekend have been retired or sold.   What gives?

10 Nov 2011 7:40 PM

My vote goes to Hansen. He handled the 'peanut butter' track wire to wire along the rail. Sure, Union Rags

had a wider trip, but the going was much faster mid track, according to the reports. Hansen won hands down and should get the juvy male award.

10 Nov 2011 7:48 PM
Mike Relva


Funny you enjoy using the Zenyatta on/off switch. When are you going to let it go? Like a reader stated you and your pals don't write history.

10 Nov 2011 7:54 PM

Jason you're bias,Hansen beat him end of story,you'll have to swallow that one just like UM when he spat the bit.

10 Nov 2011 8:00 PM
Jason Shandler

Mike: Maybe you could be our blog moderator. You seem like a bright enough guy and have just enough anger make it work. If youre interested, please let me know. Once we get a moderator, finding the sufferes will be the easy part. They are everywhere. From there, we can just find the time and place and proceed. This will be very good for everyone involved.

10 Nov 2011 8:00 PM

I think Hansen should be 2 year old champ because he did it face to face, on the track.  I said the same about Blame --- no woulda, coulda, shoulda.

I would, however, rather own Uniion Rags for next year.

10 Nov 2011 8:19 PM
Sue MacGray

My vote is for Hansen. Watching him hold of Union Rags was the high point of Saturday for me. He was very impressive. I like UR as well, and like some others here, I won't kick no matter who wins. Actually, they are both so impressive it only heightens my anticipation for the Derby prep races.

And on another matter - Wilburn to stud already?? I really wish some of these owners would stop pulling the trigger so fast. He's only 3. It would be nice to see how some of these horses develop at 4/5 or maybe 6. Too bad....

10 Nov 2011 8:59 PM

Jason, I have been reading your blog for a long time.  Usually when you contradict yourself and then bully the people who call you on it I just ignore it.  But this is getting silly.  Why don't you explain when a face to face meeting in a Breeder's Cup race decides the championship and when it doesn't?  Honestly, with all the blogs of yours that I've read, I can't tell your criteria.  And by reading the comments it's clear that I'm not the only one.  If you have a valid arguement you should be able to back it up with sound logic instead of name calling.

As far as 2-year-old champ goes, while I think Union Rags will end up being the better horse he lost fair and square on Breeder's Cup day.  Especially with 2 year olds, who haven't had time to build up much of a resume, I think the Breeder's Cup carries a lot of weight.  Hansen ran a gutsy race and held Union Rags at bay.  Hansen is your champion this year.

10 Nov 2011 9:01 PM

  I like both Hansen and Union Rags.  I suspect Union Rags will be the better 3-year-old but who knows?  I think...with Hansen's game win in the Breeder's Cup, he should get the award this year.  This is not about who will do the most in the future but who did the most NOW.  I think Hansen gets that by a whisker.  I hope both nice colts go on to great careers but they are babies...and there is no telling.

 Please, no one bring up the name of a certain, big, charismatic, retired race mare on this blog anymore.  It just gets juvenile and ugly. Just focus on the current runners when visiting here.

10 Nov 2011 9:06 PM
Mike Relva


Not angry, have a good time on your vacation.

10 Nov 2011 9:30 PM

Union Rags ran like a 2 year old in this race -- distracted and disjointed. Hansen may have beat him, but Union Rags ran a longer race and was closing at the end. Both are nice colts, but Union Rags has the edge in my opinion.

10 Nov 2011 10:53 PM

 Purse money won should equate to the quality of the horses met in competition, but, with two year olds this is not always the case. Because two year olds are more apt to be finding their proper racing level and especially in a Grade 1 race, the horses meeting each other are not necessarily

grade 1 level horses. Sometimes track raced at will be more indicative of the quality of horses met than the graded rating of the race. Yes, Hansen and Union Rags, are two really fine 2 year olds with different runnning styles, and Hansen did beat Union Rags, fair and square, therefore I say Hansen is two year old winner.

10 Nov 2011 11:12 PM

Hansen, hands down.  Why can't history repeat itself?  Didn't his great, great granddaddy, Slew, win a maiden special weight, an allowance, then blow proven stakes winners like For the Moment out of the water with his wire-to-wire 9 3/4 length win in the Champagne Stakes?  He took home the Eclipse that year.  If you compare records, Hansen's with his ungraded stakes win already is better then Slew's.  Bottome line - Hansen stepped it up and took on the best and the best couldn't get by him.  And with his pedigree, he should just keep right on rolling...

10 Nov 2011 11:13 PM

Hansen.  Go ahead make him the underdog Jason.  Everybody loves an underdog.  Anybody who watched his races had to adore him.  Either way that was the easiest exacta in racing history.

11 Nov 2011 12:10 AM
Celeste Knudsen

For an Eclipse award, I feel like the horse who had the most dominating presence should win. Which is why this one is such a close call, Union Rags had a very impressive campaign with his G1 Champagne, and G2 Saratoga Special victories, and a very close second in the BC Juvenile. He always displayed a lot of heart and talent and made his presence felt.

However, Hansen has done nothing wrong, and has proven the best whenever he was asked. For a lot of fans, he's the most intriguing two year old, and beating Union Rags in their only match up, should get the nod, I think.

For a horse to win his first grade one victory with no prior graded stakes experience is amazing, and shows what an impressive horse he is. It's not like he just got lucky that the track was playing in speed horses's favor, he worked for every inch of that.

Union Rags ran greenly in the stretch, and though it was unfortunate that he was wide on both turns, if he had been able to keep a straight path, probably would have gotten the job done.

Hansen was professional all the way, even when taking a big step-up-in company. That's incredible to me, so I think the award should go to him.

But it'll be a close one for sure.

And this has nothing to do with Zenyatta or Blame! What the heck?!These two don't need to be mentioned every time an Eclipse award is under discussion or we'll all go insane!

11 Nov 2011 12:25 AM

Hansen has the potential to be a fan favorite. He has gritty determination and spirit, a big will to win, and he is a beauty. This is America, we love beautiful. That being said, his style is a train wreck waiting to happen. Imagine him running like he does in the Belmont Stakes. To say the least, he needs work, but he could be made into a champion thoroughbred. He beat Union Rags with nothing more than sheer stubborn determination. On top of that, the commentators made slight of him at the start of the race. BIG NO NO, wrong thing to do to any horse at the start of a race. I like Hansen, he's "the little guy" in big time racing. I'd like to see him get the award. He won the BC fair and square, so why not?

11 Nov 2011 2:38 AM

Hi Jason...You can make one correction in your writing. Easy Goer had beat Is It True 3 times before the BC, not 2 times. Easy Goer beat Is it True in the G1 Champagne by 4 lengths, the G1 Cowdin by 4 lengths and in a maiden race at Saratoga by over 2 lengths. Just goes to prove how Churchill Downs was the one track Easy Goer absolutely despised, much like Skip Away,Holy Bull,Go For Wand,Point Given,etc.

11 Nov 2011 2:59 AM

Jason,  Since you are going to St.Thomas for a few days,  how about drowning that parrot while you're there,  I'm sick to death of hearing "she lost,get over it". she lost, get over it",   Maybe the fresh sea air will make that parrot lose it's memory and lose that crappy slogan he can't seem to quit saying.   Have a great time Jason but please leave the parrot there.

11 Nov 2011 6:04 AM

I'm wondering if any of those supporting Hansen for 2yo OTY even watched the race.  He got a rail-skimming trip while Union Rags was at minimum 4-wide the whole way.  He ran over 40 yards further, and was nearly there.  To give Hansen the award would be a travesty, and only based on one race.  

And Paula saying giving it to Hansen would be like Rachel over Zenyatta is a very flawed comparison.  Rachel beat the better horses more often all year long and it was Zenyatta who ran one big race and was denied the award.  

Hansen's post position deserves a "best supporting" award if Hansen is handed the Eclipse.

11 Nov 2011 6:51 AM

There is only ONE reasons that UR can possibly be considered to have the more substanitive body of work, and it's the same old predjudice of "inferior" race tracks. UR made his first 2 starts (and wins) at Saratoga.  I was there for both, and, yes, he was impressive.  Now we go to Hansen, who ran at "lowly" Turfway Park.  He still blew away the competition in his 2 starts there- by double digits each time, and his 2nd start was also a stakes, tho not a glorious G1 like the Champagne.

Horses can only run against whoever is entered- like alot of Zenyatta's victories.  They are not the racing secretary & don't control the entries.   One cannot blame Hansen for the lack of "prestigious" horses in his races- he still annialated the fields.  He did his job.

Now we get to the BCJ... the  prestigious horse, the creme de la creme... where Rags is of course favored, and what happens?  It's ALL Hansen.  He WIRES the field.  Not as if he comes up and snaps victory from Rags in the last head bob- Hansen and jock controlled that race from gate to wire.

Sure, excuses are being made for Rags (who I happen to like)- he almost went to get a hot dog coming down the stretch.  He had a wide post, as Hansen did in his prior start (Hansen broke from the 10 hole). That lends even more credability to Hansen deserving the award.  Take this into consideration:  Union Rags had been racing since July.  That's almost 5 months of track experience under his belt.  His "green-ness" should have been long gone.  Especially considering that Rags had his regular jock, while Hansen did not have Lebron in the BCJ.  Hansen's first start was September 9. To do what this colt did - rise from an "inferior" track to beat the BEST of his peers in less than eight weeks is nothing less than RAW TALENT and that is absolutely scary.  Hansen  must be viewed with respect, admiration and the 2 yr old HOTY award.

Let's hope both these colts stay safe and sound thru next season.  This could be a great rivalry.

11 Nov 2011 7:11 AM

Hanson defeated Union Rags  and is undefeated. How can you not give it to him. If Union Rags defeats Hanson in another race then fine he gets it. I don't know what Hanson has to do to win it. If defeating Union Rags isn't the way you win then please tell me how you pick the winner by picking the loser?


11 Nov 2011 7:16 AM

If Jason hadn't added the last line in his article about Union Rags getting the nod over Hansen, he wouldn't have opened himself up to the inevitable reminders of what he said about the Blame-Zenyatta encounter and how the results in the head to head should determine HOY honors. The first comment in the blog bode ill for what was to follow. Nonetheless, I think he's right about Union Rags though some may accuse him of inconsistency brought on by the blinding effect of East Coast bias. In the post Breeder's Cup blog, Jason called attention to the less than stellar ride Union Rags received. The wide trip cost the colt the nod and Union Rags was past Hansen one stride past the finish. Hansen was my bet, but Union Rags my pick in that one. Also have to agree with Jason that Havre de Grace is the right choice, but only because he added the caveat "by default." That the filly could not win the Classic in such a notoriously slow time almost requires an asterisk after HOY honors if she wins it. Would also put myself in Jason's camp in giving only Game on Dude a chance to best Havre de Grace if Baffert chooses to run him once more and the colt would take down a race the caliber of the Clark Handicap, possibly besting the likes of Classic winner Drosselmeyer, Ruler on Ice, and Flat Out.

11 Nov 2011 7:41 AM

Isn't it nice horses can't read. Hansen had no clue his former races were not graded stakes... funny how some such as Jason, complain about competition in stakes races being poor at times and then comment on how we decide whom is better counting if they ran in graded stakes.

 How many had those long shots on BC day. I had a few but not all. Again, thank God Court Vision and Drosselmeyer couldn't read the stats...as they would have spit the bit before the race.  Now if Jason could say he had all those long shots, I would think...this guy can handicap and... deserves his big ranking with the BH but all he can do is remind everyone of his lucky win with Blame. All Smith had to do was ride the race as he did with Drosselmeyer but...water over the dam.

Then again:

One thing you can think about in St. Thomas... Blame isn't going into the Hall of Fame. His counterpart is... first ballot at that.

11 Nov 2011 10:17 AM
Kinga Kowalczyk

I'm sorry Jason, so you defend yourself saying that Union Rags won graded stakes impressively when Hansen won Ungraded stakes impressively, but first of all it was Hansen who won in the end and second of all, you know Royal Delta of course. Well she broke her maiden by about 12-14 lengths. Now just because it was a maiden, it meant she didn't show any potential? when a horse wins by a decisive margin, it means that it is a class, perhaps 2 above it's competition, so Hansen showed that (as of course did Union Rags) but face it. Hansen won.

11 Nov 2011 11:02 AM
Windy City

With all due respect, history shows that for most part "speedballs" are not so successful on the tough TC road. For me, Hansen is another War Pass kind of a horse, fast maturing one who feels relaxed only while on the lead. I don't see him winning beyond 6f next year when he'll face stronger and faster horses. Not, until he learns stay off the lead, which for me seems unlikely since it mostly depends on horses character, not training.

UR on the other hand is simply more talented one. He can relax, even his loss in BC was a gallant one. If I was offered today to pick one of them to have and race (c'mon, people who don't have dreams don't have much :-) I wouldn't hesitate for a second and go with Union Rags.

I hope he gets Eclipse honors, he deserved it.

11 Nov 2011 11:42 AM
Smoking Baby

 Hansen's gets the Smoking Baby Award for two year old champ.  I do agree with those who have in so many words said you won't go too far wrong either way in this argument.  One look at Union Rags will tell you this is a colt who OOZES class.  For me, I just think because Hansen won twice around two turns, won on two different surfaces and won the only head to head meeting he gets the nod.  Now, not that he needs it but in Jason's defense, each year is different and poses different circumstances.  An opinion in one year or I should say the reasoning behind that opinion does not necessarily apply to another season's circumstances.  Life's not always that black and white.  

11 Nov 2011 11:42 AM
Dan Kelliher

Off the main topic of this article but I take exception to "Havre de Grace is the front-runner for Horse of the Year. All things being considered, she is the right the choice, even if it's by default."

This is totally premature. Her final race of the year she was soundly beaten. And she's only beat 5 horse fields most of the year. One race against males (a modest field) she won, one race against males she was soundly beaten.

If Drosselmeyer, Game On Dude, Flat Out, etc. run in the Clark and win they're more serious contenders in my book. We're filly confused this year. There is no way that Havre de Grace is even close to Zenyatta or Rachel Alexandra in ability. They were worthy HOY, Havre de Grace is very good but she's no HOY!!

11 Nov 2011 11:57 AM

Hansen is the Juvenile Champion.

A year later, and Jason is still taking digs at Zenyatta.  Jason, it's you that needs the cure for your Zenyatta derangement syndrome.

Have fun in St Thomas.  Zardana's win over Rachel Alexandra in March 2010 in New Orleans, which paid more than Blame, funded my Hawaii vacation last year; and we still have enough left over for a cruise this year.  Thanks, Zardana.

11 Nov 2011 12:05 PM
Strike the Gold


I think that with 2 year olds graded wins and lack of is somewhat meaningless.  UR broke his maiden on July 12, H September 9th.  Given H's timeframe, what he did is far far more impressive.  The fact is the top contenders from around the country met and the overwheming favoirte lost.  His trip was not so bad, he is not Afleet Alex in the Preakness.  I think H is being looked-down upon because of where he started, but with 2-year olds, it should be where they finish.

11 Nov 2011 12:14 PM

Jason, I hadn't read your blog in a while but decided to give this one a chance. The idea was to give a thumbs up to Hansen for the award, for what's it worth.

My mistake. You lost me with your sophomoric remarks such as 'Some of you people are such crybabies, it's pretty pathetic.' Just a thought, but those kinds of comments probably won't attract a whole lot of new readers.

11 Nov 2011 12:32 PM
Ida Lee

I have not seen anything that would indicate to me that Union Rags is NOT the best 2-year-old in the country. I like Hansen cause I love greys and he ran a great race but better than Union Rags, I don't think so. That's like saying Court Vision is a better miler than Goldikova cause he won the BC. And I'm not putting Court Vision down either cause I've always loved this boy but he got lucky and so did Hansen.

11 Nov 2011 12:40 PM

Hansen, gets the nod for 2 yr old Champ.

Jason, your getting criticized for Not accurately describing both Horses in their wins! Let's face it, you have maidens running in Graded Stakes at 2. That is not proven competition. So in my opinion Graded races as 2 yr olds, most horses running are Not monsters!

Proof is, the debate is over 2 horses for 2 yr old Champ! Furthermore, one of those horses GOT BEAT....

11 Nov 2011 12:49 PM
Arts and Letters

Does it really matter who is 2YO of the year, since the odds are that they'll both be injured and retired somewhere along the triple crown trail?  I just can't invest in any two year olds these days.

That said, I think both are deserving and don't really care which one gets it.  Hansen is prettier though.  :)

11 Nov 2011 1:09 PM

I think it will a longshot if even 25% of the field that ran in the Breeders Cup Juvenile make it to the starting gate of the Kentucky Derby.If any of the top finishers in the Breeders Cup Juvenile hope to even make the race IMO they will take a long break and start training again early next year.All of these races are tougher top to bottom than they used to be.Compare the number of colts that are born and go on to race as opposed to ten years ago or twenty years ago.There are more colts starting in their quest for the derby and a lot of them we havent even heard of yet. The colts that start in the Derby have less starts, for them to even get out of MSW is tougher than it used to be.

11 Nov 2011 1:13 PM

Are you people like 12 or something, we are dealing with a number of teenagers on this blog, thats obvious, are you in your junior high computer lab when you post non-sense like this.

The world of horse racing does still exist and I like to talk about the ones that are currently in training.  Its like some of you are OCD, every discussion does not revolved around her. Let it go, we are talking about 2 year olds, one who ran an extra 10 lengths and almost over came a horrible ride to win the BC Juvi.  Comparing him to a horse that ran in ungraded races trouncing less than stellar fields is the most outrageous thing I’ve ever heard.  Union Rags will win the awards hands down, its not even close.  The comparison is not even close. Its like comparing Acclamation with his less than stellar campaign to Cape Blanco who took down the best in the best races on a consistent basis.

Let’s put it on paper for the naïve to see.

Hansen: MSW defeating Admiral Nelson, KY Cup Juvi defeating Fine, and BCJ defeating UR.

Union Rags: MSW defeating Jake N Elwood, G2 Toga Special defeating Stat, G1 Champagne defeating Alpha and BCJ losing by a nose or head to Hansen.  

So a G1 and G2 and second in a G1 BC or a MSW and Ungraded race and nosing out the nearest competitor in the BC. Hmmm takes a lot of common sense to figure that one out.

11 Nov 2011 1:46 PM

Union Rags will probably win because the voters will have watched the Juvenile and, consciously or not, come to their own conclusion that Union Rags was the best horse going into the race and the best horse on that date, and not hold against the horse that JJ Castellano gave him such a visibly poor ride.

11 Nov 2011 2:18 PM

I think UR should get it but it won't upset me if they give it to Hansen.  Especially because it seems like most of the Tapits have a 4-5 race career and then they're done, so chances of him being around to compete for the 3yo title (or the TC) are pretty slim.

Give him the 2yo title and then say good-bye.

11 Nov 2011 4:02 PM

There were those that says UM has Arch on one side and therefore could get 10 furlongs.....

OMG...what total nonsense!! LMFAO!!

11 Nov 2011 4:33 PM
Pedigree Ann

I don't care who gets the statue. I just want to see them and Creative Cause (who wasn't that far behind them and has the best 10f pedigree of the lot) stay sound and well for the Derby Trail.

11 Nov 2011 4:51 PM

I love both Hansen and Union Rags.  This is a close one and hard to say.  There was something about the will of Hansen's "take off like a bull out of a chute HardSpunesque run" that was great.  And this time there was no Churchill rail ride to interfere with it.  I'm picking Hansen even though Union Rags was my original BC Juvenile pick.  They both are great and so far may be providing us with a lot of hope for the TC trail.

11 Nov 2011 6:48 PM
jean thomas

tapits are injury prone won't be around that long union rags is by  dixie union not in the mile and a quarter club that leaves creative  cause as the one of the trio to at least still be in training come derby time

11 Nov 2011 7:47 PM


Yep, that's part of the industry problem.  We need the stars to stay around.  Apparently there is more money to be made in breeding and if the farms are waving big checks racing takes a back seat.  And then there is the issue of all the fragility in the breed, maybe after the meds stop we'll get ironhorses again with staying power  Yes, it is depressing, heck, I'm still not over Lookin' At Lucky retired!

12 Nov 2011 12:27 AM

nobodies crying over zenyatta's courageous loss by less than 5 inches last year except you! you've been crying over it all year because you just can't let go of the fact that she won the popularity contest at the end of the year! lol.

nobodies not crying, they're laughing at you for your blatant hypocrisy--you spent a year hectoring and taunting everyone as to why head to heads are the be all and in all, blah blah blame blah blah blah get over it blah blah blah. boo!

funny how your rock hard criteria seems to shift every which way to suit whatever horse you support, even the ones who, not only lose head to heads, but finish fourth as non-factors, four lengths back, in the biggest race of the year, and who've never won at a mile in quarter in her life...GOD is a tough as nails horse, i woudn't be surprised if he wins another between now an d jan 1, even though he shouldn't have too to get the title but, alas, he's from the wrong side of the country...

however, all that being said, i'm down on my knees begging you and all of your experts with votes in the year end popularity contest to please vote against hansen, pretty please with sugar on top!--2 yo champs have a nasty habit of never making it past February of the their 3 year old seasons, so please saddle that dixie union sprinter with that jinx and leave my sweet odds on hansen alone!!

union rags for 2 yo champ! hansen who? hansen boo!! pay no attention the white wonder!

12 Nov 2011 12:50 AM

The award is for the body of work for the year -not just the last race.  Unions Rags has a Grade I, a Grade II, and a 2nd to a Grade I by a nose.  That's the better resume.  The award should not be based on what have you done lately.

12 Nov 2011 7:31 AM
marcelo stubrin

who is undefeated?

who won the BC race?

then, I don't get the question

12 Nov 2011 9:46 AM


My learned colleague, upon entering the blog your post was the first reviewed. I am well aware the high esteem in which you hold Union Rags and it is not surprising that you have made such a compelling case for the colt. I agree with most of the colt facts and opinion contained in you post with the exception of the conclusion that Union Rags should be voted the eclipse 2YO champion. There is no doubt that Hansen has the smallest body of work of the top three finishers in the BCJ. Based on your logic, UR’s body of work, coupled with his narrow defeat should be enough to secure the vote. If the same logic is used, Creative Cause should be voted the champion 2YO as he appears to haves the best body. Let’s review the tale of the tape:

Union Rags:  (4 Starts: 3 - 1 - 0, $858,800 )

Graded Stakes Record: (3 Starts: 2 - 1 - 0)

Two Gl; One Gll

Creative Cause: (5 Starts: 3 - 1 - 1, $521,000)

Graded Stakes Record: (4 Starts: 2 - 1 - 1)

Three Gl; One Gll

Hansen (3 Starts: 3 - 0 - 0, $1,153,200)

Graded Stakes Record: (1 Starts: 1 - 0 - 0)

One Gl

Creative Cause made his 3rd Gl start in the BCJ where as UR and Hansen were making their first and second. Union Rags and Creative Cause have the same number of victories and similar amount of Gl & Gll victories. Let’s assume Union Rages won the BCJ narrowly defeating Creative Cause. Should Creative Cause be voted champion 2YO by virtue of the extra Gl start in his body of work? Should he be voted the runner-up should Hansen get the vote?

The cold facts indicate that Hansen should win handily. What cold facts?

He was the leased experienced of the top three heading into the BCJ (Two Starts)

He was switching from synthetic to dirt in a Gl race against the best 2YOs from all coasts.(Handled surface change professionally)

Led from gate to wire while occupying the worst section of a tiring track. (Even older stronger horses failed in that department)

He refused to relinquish his lead to more seasoned rivals who had every opportunity to pass him. (Qualities of a champion)

He found a way to win while others found ways to lose.

Hansen overwhelming deservers the eclipse awards based on the above colt facts.

I advised that history was against Union Rags heading into the BCJ. I cited Easy Goer’s monster victory in the Champagne and his 1-5 loss in the BCJ. I also advised that three winners of the Champagne went on to win the BCJ but the feat never occurred in consecutive years. Thoroughbred history takes no prisoners and seems to adversely impact the best in just about every category.

Comments of a few of your statements:

“Hansen is undoubtedly a monster in the making and displayed the heart of a champion down the stretch”

Have you forgotten he is from the A P Indy sire line and consequently is affected by ‘Late Development Syndrome’ How many BCJ winners have gone on to be monsters? I will spare you the research. None! Not even Arazi. Timber Country and Street Sense are the only BCJ winners that went on to win a Triple Crown race. No BCJ winner went on to be HOY.The colt facts indicate that Hansen will not be a player in the Triple Crown series of races. Union Rage by virtue of his loss has a better shot as he has avoided the curse. I caution you to be measured in your assessment. The Uncle Mo fiasco was a teachable moment that should not be quickly forgotten.  

NB: Monster emerge from the Raise A Native sire line. You are therefore advised to focus on the promising colts from this sire line. Eddington has a nice colt that is surprisingly sprinting.

12 Nov 2011 10:15 AM

Hansen would get my vote if I had a vote.

Hansen's win in the BC was very impressive, and when he ran against inferior competition he crushed them by double digits. So: Undefeated + winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile + main rivals for the award (Union Rags, Creative Cause, etc) all showed up and finished behind him on the track... yea, he'd get my vote :P

Disclaimer: if Union Rags gets it, I won't complain as he did have a strong campaign.

12 Nov 2011 11:07 AM

Hey kentucky vet have you taken the poll on brisnet yet.Here I will make a copy with you being a professional gambler and all,its important to voice your opinion.

Which first-year sire for 2012 excites you most?  

Cape Blanco

Gio Ponti

Uncle Mo

12 Nov 2011 1:11 PM
Crickett Hoffman

I had money on Hansen even though the rest of the world was all about Union Rags.  Why?  Even though he probably didn't run against super star juveniles, he won by double digits.  He won for fun.  At the BC he had a tougher crowd, a bad track and still came home without a bit of dirt on his chest.  Sure he had to work for it this time, but he did it.  Union Rags is a very good horse too.  I backed that up with a Hansen/Union Rags exacta.  ;)

12 Nov 2011 4:42 PM
Arch the phoneman

Hansen should win it. He won the only time that they met and Union Rags had every chance to run him down in the stretch. The way Union Rags was lugging out, I seriously question him at a mile and a quarter. Hansen seems the better prospect for the Derby.

12 Nov 2011 5:09 PM
Betty S

I am not qualified to say which of these will be best next year but I was there at the Breeders Cup and the way Hansen refused to be passed was my lifetime racing thrill.  Possibly its only this year===not sure which is really the better colt, but for 2011 its my White Lightning, Hansen.

12 Nov 2011 6:08 PM

While I consider both horses to be worthy, I think it would be unfair not to give the award to Hansen, as he's done nothing wrong and won fair and square on the track.  I think the argument that Union Rags ran a better race in defeat is a fallacious one.  Hansen ran hard the entire way on a tiring track and held on determinedly in a terrific effort.  Here's to hoping both horses stay healthy and renew an exciting rivalry in the future!

12 Nov 2011 9:20 PM

i think union rags should get it cause he beat better competition then hansen but hansen did beat him so i cant really complain about who gets it as long as we have a TCW next year.

13 Nov 2011 12:01 AM

Jason Shandler 10 Nov 2011 5:58 PM:  "Some of you people are such crybabies, it's pretty pathetic."

Sounds like someone can't handle criticism of his analysis.

13 Nov 2011 2:51 PM
Katie L.

I'm not taking anything away from the winner, Hansen ran a great race, he really was a big heart to hang on and I can't wait to see him develop

But I'll have to go with Union Rags. He ran faster, he ran about 8 or 9 lenghts (according to the BC's coverage) more than Hansen and only lose by a head. Pretty much everyone on the BC's coverage said Union Rags was the best in the field after the race.

The Eclipse Award aren't just a ''take the BC's winners list and give them awards'' it's about the rest of the year too. Rags has more graded stake wins before the BC and barely lost. Many horses in the past lose their BC races and still won an eclipse award cause of their overall performance in the year

I don't get why people are even starting the debate of next year, of ''Hansen should be 2YO champ cause he will be a better next year'', next year is next year.

13 Nov 2011 3:47 PM

Seriously? Some people still believe that the Breeder's Cup is the be all end all for year end championships? And then they have the audacity to proclaim their opinion as fact? Wow. Anyway, considering the ground covered by Union Rags in the Juvenile and the fact that he was within a whisker of Hansen and passed him a cm after the wire and cruised on by, and in addition to his previous performances in races much more difficult than Hansen's, I'd say Union Rags was the best 2-year old of 2011. The best horse does not always win, and since they only had one head to head matchup and were both virtually together at the wire, it should go to the OVERALL best horse. Hansen has terrific speed, and that is a dangerous weapon which he used to win, and in no way am I denying he is a fabulous runner. However, when deciding championships, you have to look at the overall picture and consider all factors. Was it not more impressive that Rags covered a lot more ground and still was a whisker away? And also his better previous starts against tougher? What is the argument here? The only ones arguing are those who believe the BC is the championship...which historically and realistically it is not. That argument is growing tired and old.

13 Nov 2011 6:42 PM
The Rock

Anyone catch the race put in by Consortium at The Big A yesterday? Beat a very deep maiden race in a very impressive way with a great turn of foot. Reminded me of his daddy Bernardini's maiden win @ GP in 06'. Darley has a serious runner here. I hope they don't take him to Dubai. Well, unless they had dirt.

13 Nov 2011 7:22 PM

Let's give it to Hansen....let's hype another overrated speed horse so that the Kentucky Derby would be another great race to play.....Pretty sure Hansen would suck in a lot of $uckers.

13 Nov 2011 9:52 PM
kim kelly

Union Rags was already a Grade-1 winner, and he lost this race by one jump.  He put the more impressive season together, and he is my choice.  This is not any criticism of Hansen, who is clearly a very good horse.

14 Nov 2011 8:17 AM

Hansen, without much thought.   How can we even consider giving Union Rags an Eclipse when he was beat fair and square on the day we crown our champions.   Ive read how wide Union Rags was, his trip wasn't great, etc.   The reason Hansen had such a clean trip is because he ran so fast early.   He ran the first pursuers into the ground, and continued on to the finish.  Union Rags, regardless of any excuse we give, is supposed to pass Hansen given the complexion of the race.   Union Rags had more experience, he had a perfect set up, hed been training well, and he still failed go to by Hansen.   He did lug in, but he was probably getting tired himself at that point.  The reason he was getting tired is because he was giving an optimal effort to go catch the horse who had already dualed the others into submission.  

For me its really simple.   Hansen, was a better horse on BC day, hes carried an undefeated record through his juvenile campaign.  When tested, which he was, he turned back pursuers, and the horse we are trying to make a case deserves the Eclipse over him.   How does that make any sense?  

Also moving forward I think Hansen has a huge edge being trained by Maker, vs Union Rags with Matz.  Not that Matz hasn't done a good job, but Maker consistantly over achieves with junk, with a horse that actually has talent, its hard to say how good that colt can be.  

Hes always going to maintain a huge tactical advantage with that speed.  Thats something thats being lost in the shuffle.   His tactical advantage made all the difference, hes simply a better horse, deserving 2yo champion, and has much more upside moving forward.  

14 Nov 2011 8:42 AM

Amazing! The blog moderator resorts to calling people "crybabies" after asking for a brisk discussion about the subject at hand. Seems to me the moderator should be above it all and not resort to taking people to task for their opinions!

Interesting that the same arguments Jason is using were used to tilt the scales for Zenyatta last year. (She ran farther and by far had the tougher race, and she backed up her case with her impressive resume including a prior BCC, but I digress.) I do understand the Union Rags argument, and as someone else said, either way the vote goes, it will be understandable.  My vote (if I had one) is for Hansen.  I've liked him from his maiden to the BC. My hope is for both horses to enter the Derby/TC prep season and blow the doors off.  After this year's mediocre 3 yo crop, we are due for an exciting prep season and see a star emerge. I think, personally, if I were voting, I would break the "tie", if there is one between two horses in contention, by voting for the horse I think is best, overall.  Jason comes down on Union Rags; many of us are on the side of Hansen.  Gee, that's what makes horse racing so great, isn't it!

As a footnote: It is great to have the Juvie Champ title on your resume, but it didn't help Uncle Mo.  The most hyped 2yo in recent memory did no favors for the Kentucky Derby or for the Triple Crown races. It obscured and over-shadowed the whole Derby season. Then, once he was out, things still were muddled.  The only thing that saved the year for me was the Fall racing season at Saratoga! Loved it!

14 Nov 2011 10:26 AM

I haven't had time to read the comments and I admit I might be persuaded to change my choice after doing so; that said, even though Hansen narrowly won over Rags in the BCJ, my vote now is for Union Rags.  I think the most current precedent for my choice is Zenyatta HOY over Blame last year.  Blame narrowly won the heads-up showdown, but still lost the biggest prize.  I think there is no doubt the jockey's ride cost Rags the race and a win and place in a G1 plus a G2 win, trumps Hansen's 1 allowance, 1 ungraded stakes and 1 GI win.  I also feel pretty confident that Rags will prove to be the more accomplished horse in the long run.

14 Nov 2011 12:18 PM

Lookin at Lucky was 2 year old and 3 year old champion despite loosing the Breeder's Cup Juvenile and Breeder's Cup Classic.

14 Nov 2011 4:35 PM
Alicia McQuilkin

One head-to-head isn't the ultimate tell-all. Nor should they be. If these two met up again before the end of the year and Hansen won, absolutely would he deserve it. But if you break it down to sheer numbers weighted by level of competition Union Rags has a more impressive record. As it stands, Hansen has won a MSW and ungraded before the G1. Union Rags won his maiden, G2, G1, placed in a G1.

If you base the biggest award of the year on one race, you could have the dark horse that just got lucky win it. This isn't the case this year, they've both been impressive and should make for an interesting rivalry should both of them make it to the Derby (knock on wood).

But right now, Union Rags is more proven. He has four starts, two graded wins, and one graded placing. Hansen has three starts, but only one graded win.

14 Nov 2011 5:01 PM

I'm sure the voting will be close and when It's all said and done, Hansen will be crowned 2 year-old champ. There shouldn't even be an arguement. He never lost a race, he won the biggest Grade 1 race of the year, & he managed to beat all the best 2 year-olds in the same race. What more could you ask of Hansen? Union Rags had every chance to get by Hansen but he couldn't.He has not even won around 2 turns yet. Perhaps Union Rags will be the best 3 year-old next year, but this year he's clearly not the best 2 year-old.

14 Nov 2011 9:05 PM

To Footlick.

So just because Union Rags won a Grade 1 & 2 race he deserves to be champion 2 year old? Who did he beat in those races? Only one of the horses he beat came back to run in the BC Juvenile & his name is Alpha.....that's not saying much he ran 11th, beaten about 20 lengths. Union Rags got beat fair & square.

14 Nov 2011 9:20 PM

Hansen, hands down. Union Rags was well within contention down the entire Churchill stretch drive in the Juvie, and had every opportunity to get past Hansen and couldn't. Hansen is a star in the making, and the 2011 2YO Champion Male.

It doesn't matter that Zenyatta lost her final race, that is a fact. The point being made is simply that in this head-to-head match-up Hansen came out victorious, and you've previously stated, or at least inferred that its the victor in the head-to-head that gets it for you. Simply say "It's been one year..." or "She lost. Get over it" is basically a surrender.

Amazing how many people bought into the Union Rags "super-horse" hype.

15 Nov 2011 1:00 AM

Hansen will win and I don't think the voting will be close.  The award is for best two year-old performance this year and not best candidate to get 1 1/4 next May.  Hansen had two overwhelmingly dominant races at Turfway Park and then made every pole a winning one in the Juvy.  There hasn't been a horse to head this guy in his career so far, including Union Rags.

15 Nov 2011 5:05 AM

Mafan- were there any horses that Hansen ran against in the BCJ?  And why does it matter where Alpha finished since many horses didn't handle that track in the first place.  The facts are that Union Rags has more graded stakes wins.  If we take the view that only the BC counts, then Drosselmeyer will be champion male and HOY.  It is not that simplistic.  Hansen ran a great race.  Union Rags won more important races in his season.  Whoever you decide to favor is your opinion.  I don't really care which one is voted champion.

15 Nov 2011 11:01 AM
steve from st louis

I love the grit both animals showed, so I'll leave it up to Draynay. Whomever that loser picks, I'll take the other.

15 Nov 2011 11:25 AM

Afleetalexforever,  so you're saying that because Hansen has the weaker resume he shouldn't be the 2 year old champ, despite beating Union Rags? Do you use different criteria depending on the horse? I could have sworn you supported Blame for HOTY, but judging by your argument for Union Rags you couldn't have been. Seems a bit hypocritical.

15 Nov 2011 12:03 PM
Jason Shandler

There is no doubt that Havre de Grace is in the same class as Zenyatta. Fourth? Second? Who cares? A loss is a loss is a loss, no matter how you slice it. I expect her to have another terrific season in 2012 as well.

15 Nov 2011 12:36 PM
Katie L.

How can some people still believe that the BC is still THE one and Only argument in the world? How many time in history a horse won a BC's race and didn't won an Eclipse Award? Wilko? Midnight Lute in his repeat in 2008?Pleasant Home? Silver Train?

Or the contrary, losing at the BC and still winning an award:  Curlin? Lookin at Lucky? Ashado..should I continu? The list for both goes on and on.

I'm glad the people who think the BC is the only criteria don't have a vote. The rest of the year count too.

Its funny cause one your favorite win one year by a very small margin, you don't care about what happened in the race, but if your favorite lose the year after by a very small margin, only then you can say that the winner had the perfect trip and your favorite was far behind, lose a lot of ground in the turn and everything. It's hypocrite

Without taking anything away from hansen, who ran a great race and could become a great 3YO, he did win by the smalless margin on his rival who ran 8-9 more lenghts

15 Nov 2011 12:51 PM

Jason, if Havre De Grace is in the same class as Zenyatta then why don't you say Havre De Grace is overrated? Sounds like your East Coast bias getting the better of you once again(the fact that you called her season "terrific" proves that. So long Jason's credibility once again!). Name one credible source that would agree with you on Zenyatta. Don't worry, I'll wait. Maybe you should ask your pal Todd Pletcher what he thinks of Zenyatta. I seem to recall him saying, "regardless of what happens in the Breeders Cup I think Zenyatta is going to be recognized as one of the greatest fillies or mares of all time". How do like them apples? Fact is, Havre De Grace got beat fair and square by one of the weakest Classic fields ever. Unlike Zenyatta, she lost with no excuses against a far weaker field. Zenyatta would've won this year's Classic by 5 easily. "Fourth? Second? Who cares?". Jason, people will be talking about Zenyatta's amazing run in the 2010 Classic in the same light as Man O' War losing to Upset, or Native Dancer to Dark Star. No one will be looking back at Havre De Grace's run where she never looked like a win threat. She was outclassed by a weak field and should have run in the Ladies Classic. That's how historians will "slice it". Are you that bitter that Grace's performance in the Classic only enhanced Zenyatta's legacy? Is it that hard for you to swallow? After seeing Grace take the entire Saratoga stretch to run down Rule in the Woodward, who at his best is a grade 3 horse(that was 2 years ago), I knew she had zero chance in the Classic. Once again, thanks for betting on Uncle Mo. I was already way ahead after the Breeders Cup Sprint, but the Classic made my day even better. Maybe I'll use the money for Stevebiscuit Jr's college fund!

15 Nov 2011 1:24 PM
Jason Shandler

Steve: zzzzzzz....sorry I fell asleep after your first sentence. Can you please repeat?

15 Nov 2011 1:34 PM

I just like Hansen. Union Rags is a wonderful horse and a real trooper but Hansen is like the little underdog to me. He really fought to hold onto his lead and I admire him very much for it. I am a sucker for grays anyway......

15 Nov 2011 1:53 PM
El Kabong

I see potential in both but the champion for now is the 2 year old who put his cards on table, Hansen. For now that is all we have. The argument over potential worth or revisionist interpretation of what has occurred is a moot point. Hansen is the 2 year old champ. Union rags ran further and may continue to do so in the future to his own demise in races beyond his preference. Just a guess but would if, wouldn't you feel guilty, wrong and stupid for voting for a hypothetical potential instead of what has been displayed. Union Rags has plenty of time to earn his accolades and just might, but on Nov. 5th he blew it. HANSEN is the winner based on warm facts.

15 Nov 2011 2:10 PM
Mike Relva

If it doesn't matter if it were "fourth or second" wonder why the ratings for the Classic were down?

15 Nov 2011 3:21 PM

What was Animal Kingdom doing as a 2 year old?  How about Mine that Bird?  Even some of the more "classic" oriented horses.  Check out Winning Colors' record as a 2 year old.  How about Sunday Silence or Alysheba?  

A 2 year old award does not represent much anymore.  

15 Nov 2011 3:24 PM

Can't even muster a rebuttal Jason? Lmao!

15 Nov 2011 3:40 PM

There shouldn't even be a question. Hansen is the 2 Year Old Champion. He was 3 for 3 this year and beat Union Rags head to head and won the Juvenile.

Now if the question is who is the better horse? I still think Union Rags is the better horse and I like his chances better in the derby but Hansen has to get the eclipse award for 2 Year Old Champion.

Same thing as last year. Blame deserved horse of the year. Zenyatta was more popular, did more for the sport, had the better career, and was the better horse. But Blame had a better year and won their head to head matchup. Yes, it couldn't have been any more close but Blame won the race. The eclipse awards are for the top horse in the given division THAT YEAR. How popular the horse is or what else they have done in their career should not factor in to those awards. It would have been a terrible shame for Zenyatta not to win a horse of the year award but Rachel had an all-time great year the year she won and Blame did slightly more last year.

15 Nov 2011 4:10 PM
Ida Lee

Great article as usual. OK..let me put my 2 cents in. Havre is gorgeous, a beauty among beauties, and her talent cannot be questioned in a serious manner. She is an incredible athlete. She is my choice for HOTY and I believe she's going to win it. BUT she's in the same class as Zenyatta? I don't think so. No one is in the same class as Zenyatta. Not even Rachel Alexandra and Rachel is the equine love of my life. Comparing Zenyatta to another filly/mare, is like comparing Secretariat to ANYBODY OR ANYTHING. Zenyatta and Secretariat are in a class all by themselves. Comparisons are futile and just don't exist.

15 Nov 2011 4:21 PM
Ida Lee

Oh I forgot...2-year-old champ? Union Rags...enough said!!!

15 Nov 2011 4:22 PM

I guess the pirate couldn't leave that parrot at sea.  More of the "she lost get over it" mumbo jumob.   Arrrrh!!

15 Nov 2011 4:23 PM
Gio Ponti

Well, I am not one to award a horse for an entire YEAR'S WORK based on the results of one race. Taking both horse's records into account, and the fact that UR has 2 graded stakes victories to Hansen's one, I am of the opinion that UR should get it. Besides, I think there is too much emphasis on the BC races in general. There is the entire rest of the year, and to penalize a horse because he/she did not win whatever BC race (Easy Goer) or did not enter (Rachel), or could not enter (Criminal Type)due to injury is just asinine.  The Eclipse Awards are for (Category) of the YEAR, NOT (Category) of the Breeder's Cup. Just plain stupid.

Why am I not surprised to see trashing of poor Harve de Grace by Zenyatta fanatics? Wow. I guess the thought that another female may very well be voted Horse of the Year (and she should be)must terrify them. Ramon Dominguez said Grace didn't handle the track. It happens. Plenty of horse hate Churchill (Easy Goer, Point Given, etc). Even Zenyatta at first had a hard time with the track, according to Mike Smith. Like someone else earlier said, it has been a year already. Can't we let Zenyatta/Blame go already? Zen got her HOY award. Let her be retired and all. I mean, are her fans so insecure that they have to trash every other horse to make Zenyatta appear better? They trash poor Rachel,then poor Blame, and now Grace? Get over yourselves already. Zen was an awesome horse, but she was no Man O' War.  

15 Nov 2011 5:03 PM
Katie L.

Seriously people, why are you talking about Zenyatta here? The tile say ''Champion 2 YO'', we're talking about Champ. 2YO of 2011...not Horse of Year of 2010. 2012 was last year, get over it.

Smarty Jones was undefeated too in 2004 and lost the TC by 1 lenght, maybe he could have won if he wasn't send too early... and what happened in 2005? People stopped talking about it and moved on. What is it so hard to do so with her? Be happy we had the chance to see a horse like that and follow her and that's it. Stop bringing the topic every single hour of every single day for the restof your life

And yeah I'm talking to you Steve. We're in 2011, going on 2012, time to let 2010 behind you.

15 Nov 2011 5:47 PM
Mike Relva


So what happened to your "world beater horse" in the Classic?

15 Nov 2011 6:25 PM
Katie L.

*''2012 was last year'', more like 2010, sorry typo

And Thanks Gio Ponti! Couldn't said it better! I never understood those haters who come and hate 99% of the horses, call them overrated, hyped or whatever and trash them for no reason. Its sssoooo rare to see horses like Zenyatta or Rachel come around, especially 2 females...and especially running the same year. We should be glad, not hate

And all the hater toward any horses...seriously. Why hate horses? Beautiful animals who run their heart out. If you hate horses when they lose its cause the only thing you want is bet and make money, so you're not a real racing fan. Otherwise, there's no reason to hate horses. If a horse lose, so what? Enjoy the ride and love that animal, don't love the money he can make you win or lose...if you don't want to lose money, don't bet! And I'm sure you'll love the sport 10000x more if you don't bet.

Its like the people hating horses who can't get 1 1/4 mile....so what? I don't see hate toward sprinters, toward BC's sprint winners even if there's huge chance they can't get that distance too. Horses can be champ. in their own division. And even if they're not champs, we can still love them

15 Nov 2011 7:45 PM

"Zen was an awesome horse, but she was no Man O' War"

She was better.

15 Nov 2011 8:51 PM
Barry Irwin

Hansen raced on the deadest part of the track and still won. He gets my vote. Did nothing wrong at all and plenty of things right. Very admirable colt.

15 Nov 2011 9:34 PM


Do you remember the way Hansen's great-granddaddy ran?  Slew was a speedburner and with the right trainer, look what he accomplished.  Not too many people believed in him either, but in the end he proved everyone wrong.  (Does anyone remember Slew's 2yo campaign?  He won a maiden, an allowance, then took the grade I Champagne to take 2yo honors.  Hansen has already done more then Slew...so why shouldn't he be 2yo champ?)

Anyway, I just happen to believe (and it sounds like you might too) that lightning just might strike in the same place twice.  After all, if Slew could be taught to harness his speed and "relax", surely Hansen can too.  After all, there is time to work with him.

And besides, for all those naysayers, keep in mind that when Hansen gets to CD next year for the Derby, at least we already know HE can handle the track and the dirt.  

Besides, who doesn't want another Triple Crown winner?  It's way past time.  I just think a second undefeated Triple Crown winner decending in tail-mail from the first would be fascinating.

Hansen for 2yo champ!

15 Nov 2011 10:43 PM

Gio Ponti- if you read everything it goes both ways.  It is far from one sided.  I have been asking for a long time for the subject to be dropped, and it always start up again, usually because one of the usual culprits makes an insulting remark about Zenyatta.  Havre de Grace was being touted by many of them as the horse who was going to show the Zenyatta supporters how a REAL mare wins the BCC- on dirt.  She didn't.  Instead, she showed how hard it is to even finish second on dirt.  Both sides need to drop it.  Period.  One side is no more to blame than the other.  As for comparing Zenyatta to Man O War, imo, you cannot compare any American thoroughbred to him.  Maybe Ribot and Sea Bird in Europe, but I feel, and this is just my opinion, every American thoroughbred pales.  The weights he carried at two and three were staggering for a young horse.  The racing secretaries told his connections that they would not start him out, as a 4 yr old, with any impost under 140.  His connections decided to retire him than have him carry that weight.  He was one of the most amazing animals we have ever seen on our soil.  Period.  It is not a fair comparison.  But just my opinion.  

16 Nov 2011 10:52 AM
Mike Relva


The door swings both ways.

16 Nov 2011 12:30 PM

Why is it when a horse loses, you people say all of these things? The horse hated the track, distance,weather,jockey,blah blah blah...A horse wins on a poly track and you all say that horse won because he loves poly?  Do you people know what a dirt track has in it? many many different things...how about poly ,pro ride etc... many diff things........MAYBE THE HORSE WAS JUST READY TO FIRE! EVER THINK OF THAT?

17 Nov 2011 8:48 PM
Dr. Hansen

I love the debate here.  I hope the rivalry continues on the track.

Union Rags is a magnificent looking athlete.  I am a fan.  Did u all know Union Rags and Hansen are friends on FaceBook?...lol   This rivalry is great for our for our sport.  Also, I think it may be mistake to leave Creative Cause out of the discussion.  Mr. Harrington had to tuck in behind and hope Hansen would tire.  I would have used similar tactics.  All three horses will grow and get stronger. We intend to help Hansen impove the most.  We will all also have to contend with additional competitive horses coming on the scene.  We are not content and will do all possible to help Hansen reach his full potential.    I think he will have a big growth spurt.  Hansen has an amazing gate.  Have you seen how far he extends his hoofs past his nose?   Mr. Maker told me after his second work out before the championship that he is  totally conviced there is no problem with Hansen getting 10 furlongs.   As far as the running of the race we feel Hansen "earned" his track position.   He has an amazing engine.  He runs professionally and not erratic.  Hansen's first two races were almost play to him.....not even winded))) and after the Breeders Cup he was bucking a kicking after the race.  He loves the track and running more that any horse I have seen.   He is so happy out there!! It was very useful for Hansen to finally see another horse come into his field of vision

Note that no horse has yet to be in front of Hansen .....at any call...in a race or workout. He will not allow it.   If there was a rail bias and front running bias at Churchill how many lengths do you think Hansen would have won by?  There is only one undefeated Grade One stakes winner in the world.

The best thing I can say on Hansen's behalf is that if Mike Maker and I thought the 2 year old championship would be decided in New York at the Champagne Stakes, ....we would have taken Hansen there.  Mr. Maker, from the very beginning pointed to the Breeders Cup Juvenile as we thought that was "The World Championship".  The other races in our opinion were "prep" races or a vehicle to qualify for November 5th showdown.

I am confindent Hansen will not disappoint next year and bring proper distinction to the Eclipse Award.  We look forward to future rematches with Union Rags.

17 Nov 2011 8:50 PM

What is going on with this dissing of UNCLE MO??? Maybe you people dont know a great horse when you see one! One of the best beyers ever 108 as a 2 yr old......by far the top beyer as 3 yr old 118  !!! Why the disrespect?  Just because he got sick?  This is why i can make a living betting this game! You people dont understand the game!

17 Nov 2011 8:59 PM

Footlick I agree. The comparison is not fair.Man O' War and any horse are notin the same category. Not only did he carry extreme weight, he also raced with only 7 or 8 days between races. I doubt very seriously that we will see another like him.

18 Nov 2011 2:36 PM
Carlos in Cali

Well said Dr.Hansen,I can't wait to see him on the track next year as he certainly should have a growth spurt to go along with that turbo-engine he has.

A monster in the making!

18 Nov 2011 2:57 PM
Carlos in Cali


How did those beyers work out for you in the BC?..

Face it,UM had distance limitations and nothing more.He was good not great.

18 Nov 2011 3:05 PM
Mike Relva

Dr. Hansen

I have to agree Hansen is an exciting horse to watch, providing he stays healthy. He ran a great race. Union Rags didn't enjoy a desirable post and ran wide most of the way.

18 Nov 2011 3:56 PM

Dr. Hansen,

I just loved watching Hansen run!  I haven't been this excited about a 2yo in a long time.  Can you tell me how he compares to his great-granddaddy, Seattle Slew?  He too loved to burn up the tracks.  Is he as "professional" as he appears, though only being 2?  This should only bode well for the future.

18 Nov 2011 9:04 PM
Stake horse

Let's face it Hanson has not had one bad step he has won every race and impresively .

Hanson and Union Rags both raced on the same track the same day and Hanson won.

There is no debate Hanson is the better horse .

I have bred and raced many horses I only dream of a horse like Hanson.

20 Dec 2011 11:33 AM
Stake horse

Let's face it Hanson has not had one bad step he has won every race and impresively .

Hanson and Union Rags both raced on the same track the same day and Hanson won.

There is no debate Hanson is the better horse .

I have bred and raced many horses I only dream of a horse like Hanson.

20 Dec 2011 11:43 AM

Recent Posts



More Blogs