- Road to the Kentucky Derby
- Racing & Wagering
- Derby Experience
- Plan Your Visit
Big Bazinga, Extrasexyhippzster put in final major moves for Blue Grass
At 9 a.m. (EDT) Sunday at Keeneland, Big Bazinga worked four furlongs in :47 3/5 over the Polytrack with Brian Hernandez Jr. aboard as he continues to prepare for Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Blue Grass.
Click here to watch a video of the work.
"I just told (Hernandez) to do a nice maintenance work," trainer Katerina Vassilieva said. "He's a pretty good work horse. He'll just kind of naturally do it on his own; he doesn't need to be asked.
"(I wanted him) just to finish off stronger than the first part and gallop out strongly, which he did. He loves the Polytrack, and he traveled really well over it today. I'm really pleased with him."
Vassilieva said Big Bazinga's earlier success on Polytrack was key to making the Blue Grass a target. The Bluegrass Cat gelding opened his career last September at Woodbine, winning his first race over the surface and finishing second next out in the Grey.
After a seventh in the Delta Downs Jackpot, an 11th in the Holy Bull at Gulfstream and a grass start at Gulfstream, the dark bay returned to Polytrack in the Spiral at Turfway Park on March 22 and was beaten just 2 1/2 lengths when finishing fifth.
"He ran really well in the Spiral, so we thought this was the logical next spot for him," Vassilieva said.
Assistant trainer Amber Mayers and Big Bazinga arrived at Keeneland a few days after the Spiral.
"(Mayers) says he's training brilliantly, better than she's ever seen," Vassilieva remarked. "He seems happy. He's traveling over the surface really well. It's a surface he already knows and likes, so I think he's in good shape."
Vassilieva drove from Toronto to Lexington on Saturday and at 7 a.m. arrived at Keeneland for the first time.
"I've just been walking around admiring beautiful Keeneland," she said. "I'm so excited and grateful to be here. I feel blessed and humbled. It's only my fourth year of training on my own, so to have a horse like this, to be able to have this experience, is so amazing to me."
Hernandez, who met Vassilieva at Fair Grounds where she began her training career in 2011, will ride Big Bazinga in the Blue Grass.
Post positions for the Blue Grass will be drawn on Wednesday.
Also working on Sunday at Keeneland for the Blue Grass was Extrasexyhippzster, who completed his final major move for the nine-furlong contest by clocking a :46 half-mile in company before the morning renovation break.
With Stewart Elliott up, Extrasexyhippzster posted fractions of :11 2/5 and :22 2/5 before galloping out five furlongs in 1:01 3/5. Extraasexyhippzster started even with workmate Allwewanttforxmas and finished two lengths in front.
"I thought it was a good work and Stewart liked it," trainer Michael Trombetta said. "Allwewantforxmas is going to run in the Giant's Causeway (on April 19)."
The work was the second at Keeneland for Extrasexyhippzster, who covered five furlongs in 1:00 last Sunday. The Pennsylvania-bred son of Stroll has never raced on Polytrack but has all-weather track experience.
"He has trained on the synthetic at Fair Hill (Training Center)," Trombetta explained. "But it is hard to tell how they will do on it until they race on it."
Julien Pimentel, who has ridden the colt in his past four starts, will have the riding assignment in the Blue Grass.
Trainer Todd Pletcher sent out a quartet of sophomores over the fast dirt at Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida on Sunday to ready for possible Blue Grass starts. Grade 2-placed Danza was caught going four furlongs in :49, while undefeated Divine Oath breezed the same distance in :50 3/5. Palm Beach hero Gala Award turned four panels in :49 1/5 and Grade 3 winner Vinceremos traveled a half in :49 1/5.