It's not exactly accurate to say that Fast and Accurate is fast. Or inspiring. Or particularly deserving of a spot in the Kentucky Derby. Yet here he is. He has the points to get in and an owner who is rich enough and crazy enough to pay the $200,000 late nomination fee because the horse was not even Triple Crown nominated heading into his Kentucky Derby prep race.
This is an odd story. Owner Kendall Hansen, a doctor in Kentucky, is best known as the owner of the modestly-named Hansen, who was the two year old champion of 2011. In the Blue Grass Stakes in 2012, Hansen the owner created serious controversy by dying the white tail of Hansen the horse bright blue. The horse went on to finish ninth in the Derby and then won once more in two starts before being returned to stud. Hansen sold the horse to South Korean interests where he now stands. This horse is a son of Hansen the horse, owned by Hansen the owner. Or at least mostly owned - Hansen sold 20 percent of the horse after qualifying for the Derby, presumably to fund the nomination fee.
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We can be sure of two things - the horse almost certainly isn't good enough to be a factor in Louisville, and the lead-in to the race won't be boring with this owner around.
Last race: For his graded stakes debut, Fast and Accurate headed to Turfway Park for the Spiral Stakes. It's a prep race that really shouldn't be a prep race - it's run on a synthetic surface, which has pretty much nothing in common with the dirt of Churchill, yet the winner earns enough Derby points to make the Derby field. It's typically a waste of a spot in the starting gate, in my view, though Derby winner Animal Kingdom did come out of this race. In this race Fast and Accurate stalked the early pace, took the lead aggressively entering the stretch, and gave up some ground down the stretch while still holding on for a win by less than a length. The race was run at a decent pace early on, but things were glacial down the stretch - the last furlong took well over 14 seconds. A win is a win, but it was far from the most impressive performance of this prep season. Bettors were caught off guard by the performance - he was the 25/1 10th choice in the 11-horse field.
Prior experience: It took a while for this horse to grow into himself. His first three starts happened at lower-level tracks, and they were not impressive. He was second in his debut, finished fourth in a lower-level stakes race and then fifth in another maiden race. Finally he broke his maiden in his fourth try at Turfway Park in early December. That was in a maiden claiming race, which means that any registered owner could have bought the horse for $30,000 at the conclusion of that race. No one did, so next time out he was in a starter stake at Gulfstream - a stakes race limited to horses that had previously run in claiming races. He won that one, too. It's important not to get too excited about this winning streak, though - horses that run in claiming races are not by any means elite, so the jump from a claiming race in December to the Derby in May is so large you can't possibly quantify it.
Trainer: Mike Maker got a very sound foundation to his career, working as an assistant to the legendary D. Wayne Lukas for a decade before going out on his own in 2003. Lukas won the Derby and Preakness three times each and the Belmont four times in that era, so Maker certainly has exposure to Triple Crown success. On his own his biggest success has been with Hansen. He was in the Derby for the first time himself in 2010 with Stately Victor, and last year he took Oscar Nominated after again winning the Spiral.
Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione is a young jockey who was named the top apprentice jockey in the country in 2015. Fast and Accurate is just his fourth graded stakes winner, and he has not won a Grade 1. Needless to say, the Derby is going to be a whole new experience for him.
Breeding: This is Hansen's first crop of three year olds, so very little is known about how successful he will be as a sire. As a runner, though, he certainly didn't seem comfortable at the classic distance. Damsire Green Dancer was a highly-successful colt in France that went onto a very successful stud career primarily in Europe. He offers far more of a stamina influence than Hansen does.
Odds: BetOnline has Fast and Accurate listed as a very big underdog at +10000 to win the Kentucky Derby. That's pretty bleak. Those oddsmakers are almost as pessimistic about this horse as I am.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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