Many of the sons and daughters of the stallion Tapit are gray or roan in color, but Hansen is nearly white, which is rare for a Thoroughbred. The speedy colt, bred and named by his co-owner Dr. Kendall Hansen, showed great promise as a two-year-old and won his first race by 12¼ lengths. Fifteen days later, he easily defeated the competition in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile by 13 1/4 lengths.
Hansen wrapped up a perfect 2-year-old campaign with a wire-to-wire victory in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs in which he held off favored Union Rags, who would win the 2012 Belmont Stakes, by a head. Hansen’s victory gave jockey Ramon Dominguez his second Breeders’ Cup victory and provided trainer Mike Maker with his second triumph in the Championships. Hansen earned the 2011 Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male.
Hansen's unbeaten record ended in the Holy Bull Stakes on January 29 at Gulfstream when he stumbled at the start and finished second to Algorithms. He improved his record to four wins from five career starts with a three-length victory in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct on March 3 before finishing second in the Blue Grass Stakes in his final prep for the Kentucky Derby. Hansen pressed the pace from third in the Kentucky Derby and battled gamely in the stretch before fading late to finish ninth.