Seven Kentucky Derby Horses in Seven Days: Hence the Enigma

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

May 2nd, 2017

This is the fifth installment as I profile seven Kentucky Derby contenders in seven days. I’ve already covered McCraken,  Always Dreaming,  Irish War Cry and Classic Empire.

In a sterling Sunland Derby (G3) win last time out, Hence soundly defeated Blue Grass (G2) hero Irap, Arkansas Derby (G1) runner-up Conquest Mo Money and Illinois Derby (G3) runner-up Hedge Fund, so why is there not a bit more fanfare surrounding this colt? The Steve Asmussen pupil has experience beneath the Twin Spires and has also worked in good fashion with four solid morning drills over the famed oval in hopes of achieving Derby glory.

Chestnut son of Street Boss has won two-of-three races in 2017 after an average juvenile campaign and his maiden win three back was a sensational show of how athletic this colt really is. It was something one simply doesn’t see very often, with Hence dramatically re-rallying to the lead after ducking in violently in late stretch in his seasonal debut, and it really doesn’t matter to me what the Kentucky-bred was running against in that Oaklawn test -- the agility was awesome!

Late-running colt has a fine turn of foot and being out of an A. P. Indy mare from a family with class and proven distance runners, Hence should appreciate the 10-furlong trip on Derby Day.

The Calumet homebred does, however, have a big “goose-egg” on his resume when showing little in the Southwest S. (G3) two back and I do question his overall class and consistency heading into the Run for the Roses. Sophomore colt posted a hefty 103 BRIS Speed figure after a previous best of 86, so was his huge triumph a sign of the colt turning the corner or did things just happen to fall into place at a high-altitude venue where results can sometimes be skewed?

Still, wouldn’t it be absolutely fantastic for the storied Calumet Farm to have a homebred win the Derby, making it the ninth three-year-old taking home the Derby trophy in their silks, and the first one since 1968?


Hence is a polarizing to me. The colt is impossible for me to back with total confidence due to his inconsistency and the massive leap forward in the tour-de-force at Sunland. But I wouldn’t be floored if he was right there late, especially if a few of the top guns fail to fire. Hence will be in a lot of my tri and super tickets, and maybe one or two multi-race plays, though, as the light-bulb simply might have gone on for the Asmussen trainee.