Hansen’s pre-Gotham Blowout, non-Lasix at GP, and UK goings on…

‘The Great White Hope’ is probably my favorite pre-Derby motto. Congrats to the hometown connections behind Hansen here in Louisville – I only wish he was training at Churchill’s Trackside facility which I drive by everyday as trainer Mike Maker did for many years past. Oh well.

EDIT: As of March 10th, Hansen is headed to Trackside in Louisville to train up to the Spiral Stakes.

From Dr. Hansen’s blog:

“He (Maker) decided to take Hansen to the track the morning of the race to gallop about 3/4 of a mile.  Hansen gets upset when he does not get to go to the track. So why not make him happy?”

Now by ‘gallop’ this could mean anywhere from 6F in either 13 or 18 second furlongs, but what actually happened isn’t that important, what is notable is that this excitable colt was taken out of his stall the morning of the biggest race of his life for exercise. I gather that since Dr. Hansen called attention to this as a ‘change’, that it was the first time it happened. Voila – he was much calmer in both the post parade and in the gate.

We have talked about the physiological implications of the ‘blowout’ for years in this space. For such a fractious colt, this exercise will cause contraction of the spleen – dumping 30% more red blood cells into the bloodstream. Now when he returns to his stall for his afternoon nap – the spleen re-fills with fresh blood. Without this session, he goes to the gate with 7 day old blood inside of that spleen, less than ideal for oxygen transport.

The connections viewed this practice as purely a psychological tool, but enjoyed the physiological aspects as well, no doubt. A blowout doesn’t need to be a Carl Nafzger style 4F in :50, it can be much slower for an excitable prospect.


Race 7 is a MSW for 3yo over 6F on the dirt with 9 first time starters in the field of 10. Kiaran McLaughlin sends 2 forward for Darley without Lasix, as does owner/trainer Fred Seitz with his entry. Seitz wins, and the 2 Darley horses place and show.

I bet this was the first ‘lasix-free trifecta’ in many, many years – decades, perhaps?

TOBA Graded Stakes Chairman Dr. David Richardson took some heat for backing off on the lasix-free 2yo races in 2012, but he also provided some of the best comments on the use of the diuretic in an interview in the Paulick Report:

“We suggest that most who discuss the merits of furosemide have not read the studies on its use.  The study on furosemide from South Africa was a well-done study and demonstrated that the drug had a modest effect on reducing EIPH.  The study showed 79% had some bleeding without furosemide and 57% of those receiving the drug also had bleeding.  Thus, in the study group receiving no medication, 21% had no bleeding, 44% had Grade 1 bleeding (minor and does not affect performance), and 23% had Grade 2 bleeding (which would be borderline for adversely affecting performance).  Therefore, the major benefit accrued to 12% of the horses.  Is it wise to treat 100% of horses to achieve a 12% benefit?  While long-term negative effects of furosemide administration on the breed can be postulated but are certainly unproven, it is clear there are major dissues of public perception about competing on medication.  It is curious why we feel 2-year-olds racing in Graded Stakes races require this medication when racing in all jurisdictions around the world are able to function without it.”


“So if you got that edge it has to help. The likes of Aidan O’Brien and Mike de Kock, some of the most revered trainers in the world, are seeing there is a benefit to using exercise science.”

Read More http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/sport/horse-racing/2012/03/05/sports-physiologist-george-wilson-helping-new-trainer-will-kinsey-to-get-ahead-of-the-game-100252-30460562/#ixzz1oHgkX1Fe


About bpressey

Equine Exercise Physiologist

Posted on March 5, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Hey Bill,

    Nice article, what is the address of Dr. Hansens Blog?

  2. Here you go Bart:


    Trainer Mike Maker is ultraconservative along the lines of his mentor, D Wayne Lukas. I doubt Hansen will ever work 6F in his lifetime, while being expected to excel at 10F. Likewise, he will never gallop further than 1.5 miles. Whatever he accomplishes is due to superior nature (genetics), rather than nurture (conditioning).

    Best case scenario: he has a few big wins and fizzles out like Uncle Mo. On the other hand: with all Derby horses prepping in the same manner, someone has to win!

  3. Brian Engelking

    Bill, another interesting point on Hansen and his Gotham win. The track record was set in 1992 by a perennial claimer named Autoroute in a 50K claiming race. Autoroute finished the race in a blazing 1:41.06 compared to Hansen’s 1:43.84. A little math puts Hansen 2.78 seconds behind Autoroute… that’s about 14 lengths using the 1 sec=5 length guideline…. good enough for Hansen to be fighting it out for 7th place in the 1992 race! Hmmm…

    • I don’t get why people in the US are so concentrated on times, over here (Europe) times are just fun facts. Maybe its because racing is different over here, i.e. not everyone is just blasting out of the gate, you see loads of low level handicaps in faster times then graded races. The most important European race, the arc, was run in a record time this year, it was barely news.

      • For example, my horse Times Ahead ran a 9f mid level handicap stakes race in Baden-Baden, which he won in a time almost 3 seconds faster than the listed race over 9f the day after, track conditions the same, though he would have been crushed against these horses if he was in that race.

  4. Bart,

    In the UK and Ireland part of Europe race times are absolutely key facts.
    Racing people want more than just final times they want accurate sectional times and horse body weights. All essential data to rate performances. Of course, the media and many trainers (unlike your good self) are decades behind the curve.

    • Maybe I shouldn’t have spoke about the whole of Europe, because admittedly I don’t have any experience with racing on the isles. However where my horses do start, Holland, France, Germany and Belgium, people don’t seem to be bothered much by racing times. Today I watched some French racing, at Compiegne was a claiming race over a mile and a quarter, the pace was so dull that the race resulted in a 3 furlong sprint a the end, I imagine you don’t see this kind of racing in the UK or Ireland. The time of this race obviously isn’t of interest.

      • Bart, i agree with you about the times aspect and how handicaps can run faster times than listed races. A faster time doesn’t mean the horse is better. Similarly in handicaps, i can say from experience that a horse which carries top weight in a lower grade handicap and wins doesnt even mean his will be competitive off a lower weight in a higher graded race. I can only speak about turf courses here in Ireland and ground conditions vary so much that comparing times could be viewed as meaningless. In addition with the exception of an all weather track, allcoursesvarysignificantly. Racing is more tactical than in the US, but then again the majority of our flat races are over 1mile.
        Also to the best of my knowledge there are no sectional times recorded of racing here or not officially

      • It should have read “or not officially recorded”.

        However i am more than willing to be enlightened by any other contributor here.

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