Shadwell Stable’s Mafaaz, who will make his U.S. debut in the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) on April 11, visited the starting gate April 9 at Keeneland and then galloped a mile and a quarter under exercise rider Miguel Moya.
“He just walked in the there and backed right out,” said Les Reynolds, head traveling lad for trainer John Gosden. “We just wanted him to get used to the gate here and let the gate personnel see him.
“We wanted him to get a feel for the gate here. Your gates are bigger here and not padded the same. We have requested there not be a man in the gate with him Saturday. We don’t use them in England. If there is a man in the gate, the horses tend to look at them and then miss the break.”
The gate visit will be the only one for Mafaaz, who was scheduled for a paddock schooling session during Thursday’s racing program.
Reynolds has been an assistant to Gosden for nine years and made the trip to Santa Anita last fall with Raven’s Pass and Donativum, who collected victories in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
Gosden and jockey Richard Hills are scheduled to arrive in Lexington on April 10.
WinStar Farm Hold Me Back, the 3-1 morning-line favorite for the Blue Grass, drew post 10 in the 11-horse race, of some concern to trainer Bill Mott.
“The speed’s inside, so is everybody else,” Mott said. “He’ll have to find his way the best he can.”
The Blue Grass will mark the fifth career start for Hold Me Back, who is coming off a 1 3/4-length victory in the Lane’s End (gr. II) on March 21 at Turfway Park. He broke from post 2 in that race. The farthest outside post the colt has drawn was post 4 in the Remsen (gr. II) last November.
On April 4, Hold Me Back, ridden by Mott’s assistant trainer, Leana Williford, jogged and galloped around the main track.
Kent Desormeaux, who rode Hold Me Back in the Lane’s End, will be aboard the Giant's Causeway colt.
Silverton Hill Cliffy's Future had a quiet morning at Barn 8 a day after working three furlongs in :36.40. “He came out of the work fine. Everything is good with him,” trainer Darrin Miller said.
All other Toyota Blue Grass entrants stabled at Keeneland were on the track April 11.
Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren Jr.’s Charitable Man galloped a mile and a half with Pat Correa up. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin is scheduled to be at Keeneland on April 10.
Frankfurt Stable’s Massone galloped under jockey Goncalino Almeida. Massone’s trainer, Ron McAnally, is expected to be at the barn on April 10 for training hours.
IEAH Stables’ LLC’s Patena galloped early April 9 with exercise rider Marcus Powell up.
Adele Dilschneider’s Terrain visited the paddock and then galloped a mile and a half under exercise rider Keith Harris.
Samotowka Stables’ Theregoesjojo galloped a mile and a half under exercise rider Amanda Tamburello.
Join in the Dance (pictured) schooled in the paddock with the horses in the fifth race on April 9, said Ginny DePasquale, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher. In the morning, the Sky Mesa colt jogged and stood in the starting gate with exercise rider Kim Boniface aboard. Owned by brothers Jake and Reed Ballis, Rashard Lewis and brothers Regan and William Swinbank, Join in the Dance will start from post 2 for the Blue Grass and will be ridden by John Velazquez.
The Blue Grass is featured on this week's That Handicapping Show.