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John Hancock Enjoys Juvenile Niche at Keeneland

April 27, 2017

LEXINGTON, KY (April 27, 2017) – Trainer John Hancock has won four races during the first 13 days of Keeneland’s 15-day Spring Meet, including three wins with 2-year-old first-time starters. That ties him with Wesley Ward, who also has won three juvenile races.

“We’ve had a monster meet,” Hancock said, who now has nine career wins at Keeneland. “It’s been a good month of April.”

Hancock already has sold one of those 2-year-old winners, Flat Drunk, the first starter for her sire, Flat Out. Racing for Hancock’s wife, Donna, and co-breeders Gray Lyster and Bryan Lyster, Flat Drunk won on April 13.

“She left here yesterday morning,” Hancock said about Flat Drunk. “She was on a plane to California going to (trainer) David Hofmans. We’ve had interest in some others. Looks like we might get fortunate to sell one or two more.”

Hancock is based in Henderson, Kentucky, at Riverside Downs training center, co-owned by his brother-in-law Roger Meuth. Hancock – often called “Big John” – said he enjoys preparing young horses and credits a great deal of his success to his employees at Riverside who work with them.

“We target our babies for Keeneland,” he said. “We buy here (at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale). When we come here to race, we are ready to run.”

Hancock’s other notable 2-year-old debut winners at Keeneland that he subsequently sold include Cocked and Loaded, a colt by Colonel John who won here in April 2015 and became a Grade 3 winner, and Midnight Chica, a Midnight Lute filly who won here in April 2016 and has made her past four starts in Dubai at Meydan, where she was second in the UAE Oaks (G3) on Feb. 23.

However, none of these 2-year-old winners is as special to Hancock as the Awesome Patriot filly Amberspatriot, who won her Keeneland debut on April 19. His late mother, Bivian Hancock, had owned a fourth of her.

“When that filly crossed the wire, it was a feeling I could never describe,” Hancock said. “I walked halfway up the race track to pick her up and lead her back into the Winner’s Circle. I’ve had some offers for her, but I won’t ever sell her.”