By Dick Downey
Shug McGaughey sent Mr Speaker out for a spin on Sunday at Keeneland in preparation for the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, but the trainer expressed reservations about the race.
Mr Speaker, winner of the Dania Beach and runner-up in the Palm Beach, worked solo, covering a half-mile in :46.20 (3/63), handily, and galloping out five furlongs in :59.60.
“He worked a little faster than I wanted,” McGaughey said. “I am still on the fence about the Blue Grass. I do not want to run him in a big field, but I have not eliminated it yet.”
Keeneland has said a large field is expected for the race, perhaps a full gate of 14.
Sunday at Keeneland, Big Bazinga worked four furlongs in :47.60 (8/63), breezing, with Brian Hernandez Jr. aboard.
“I just told him 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, 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.”
The gelding, a Keeneland sales graduate, has only had success on synthetic or turf. He won his first race over the surface at Woodbine and next finished second in the Grey Stakes at the same track. After a seventh in the Delta Downs Jackpot, an 11th in the Holy Bull and a decent grass race at Gulfstream, he returned to Polytrack in the Spiral Stakes and was fifth, beaten only 2 1/2 lengths.
“He ran really well in the Spiral, so we thought this was the logical next spot for him,” the trainer said.
Vassilieva’s assistant, Amber Mayers, and Big Bazinga have been at Keeneland for over a week.
“She says he’s training brilliantly, better than she’s ever seen,” Vassilieva said. “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.”
Also working toward possible Blue Grass starts were a quartet of Todd Pletcher trainees at Palm Meadows, each going four furlongs. Divine Oath went in :50.60 (22/24), Gala Award in :49.25 (11/24) and Vinceremos in :49.25 (11/24). Danza, who’s been mentioned for the Arkansas Derby, was timed in :49.05 (8/24). All the works were breezing.
Extrasexyhippzster completed his major work for the Blue Grass with a half-mile in company in a quick :46.00 (2/63), handily.
With Stewart Elliott up, Extrasexyhippzster posted fractions of :11.40, :22.40 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.60. 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.
The work was the second at Keeneland for Extrasexyhippzster, who covered five furlongs in 1:00.00 a week earlier.
Extraasexyhippszter, who most recently laid an egg in the --, has never raced on Polytrack.
“He has trained on the synthetic at Fair Hill,” Trombetta said. “But it is hard to tell how they will do on it until they race on it.”
Julien Pimentel will have the ride Extrasexyhippzster for the fifth straight time.
Post Position Draw
Post positions for the Toyota Blue Grass will be drawn on Wednesday. TVG will carry live coverage of the draw from 11:30 to Noon ET. The event will be hosted by Tom Leach and Todd Schrupp.