With the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) only two days away, the stable area at Keeneland Racecourse was an active place Thursday morning.
Nick Zito-trained Little Cliff breezed three furlongs in :37 2/5 over the track labeled "fast" in his final work for the Blue Grass. Strong Contender, the 4-1 morning-line third choice for the Blue Grass was schooled in the paddock and the personnel at Todd Pletcher's barn eagerly awaited the mid-morning arrival of Bluegrass Cat, the 5-2 second choice in the Blue Grass. Along with Saturday's Arkansas Derby (gr. II), the Blue Grass is one of two remaining major preps for the May 6 Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Meanwhile, over at Barn 25, one of the best 3-year-olds on the grounds was not getting ready for the Blue Grass but jogged over the Polytrack training track as he enjoys a break from the routine while awaiting the Derby. The colt, Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Barbaro, arrived at Keeneland on Wednesday and will remain stabled there before going on to Louisville, Ky., where the atmosphere will be much more hectic, about seven to 10 days before the classic.
"Having him here is a good changeover," said Peter Brette, assistant to trainer Michael Matz. "This is quite a transition."
Brette, who was aboard the colt as he was exercised on the training track, said Barbaro ate well and showed no ill effects from his trip north from Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida.
Brette said Barbaro will gallop on the main track Friday and that during his Keeneland stay he will likely be exercised on both the main and training tracks.
The son of Dynaformer
ended an eight-week hiatus from competition to win the Florida Derby and is seeking to become the first horse since Needles in 1956 to win the Kentucky Derby off a five-week layoff.
Barbaro has won all five of his starts for owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson and has shown versatility, winning three grass starts before taking the Holy Bull (gr. III) over a sloppy main track at Gulfstream Park before winning the Florida Derby.To purchase this photo of Barbaro, click here.