Blue Grass horses gets feel for Keeneland surface

Today’s Keeneland barn notes by the track’s publicity department (Coady Photography photo above of Rombauer training at Keeneland for last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile):

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·       UNTREATED GETS FIRST FEEL OF MAIN TRACK FOR TOYOTA BLUE GRASS

·       DUBAI WORLD CUP WINNER MYSTIC GUIDE SCHEDULED TO RETURN TO KEENELAND

·       HARTY HOPES RACING LUCK COMES FAIR MAIDEN’S WAY IN MADISON

·       DON’T FORGET TO CHECK AVAILABILITY OF TICKETS FOR KEENELAND SPRING MEET

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UNTREATED GETS FIRST FEEL OF MAIN TRACK FOR TOYOTA BLUE GRASS

Team Valor International’s Untreated, the 8-1 co-third choice for Saturday’s $800,000 Toyota Blue Grass (G2), got his first feel of the main track at Keeneland on a brisk Wednesday morning.

“Everything went fine this morning,” said trainer Todd Pletcher’s assistant Amelia Green, who was aboard Untreated as well as Shadwell Stable’s Malathaat, the morning-line favorite for Saturday’s $400,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1). “They both got here at 5:30 yesterday afternoon (from Palm Beach Downs in Florida).”

Pletcher has won the Toyota Blue Grass three times and is the only trainer to have entrants in Saturday’s Toyota Blue Grass and Central Bank Ashland. Six trainers have swept the two races in the same year, most recently Kenny McPeek in 2002 with Harlan’s Holiday and Take Charge Lady.

Entrants for the Toyota Blue Grass trained on five fronts Wednesday morning.

Also at Keeneland on the main track were John and Diane Fradkin’s Rombauer who galloped at 6 a.m. over the wet track under Brian O’Leary and Godolphin’s Essential Quality, the 3-5 morning line favorite, who galloped at 8:15 a.m. under Elver Vargas.

BBN Racing’s Hidden Stash galloped 1½ miles on Keeneland’s all-weather training track, where he was joined by the Joseph P. Morey Jr. Revocable Trust’s Hush of a Storm.

Klaravich Stables’ Highly Motivated and Cypress Creek Equine, Arnold Bennewith and Spendthrift Farm’s Keepmeinmind trained at Belmont Park and Oaklawn Park, respectively. Both horses are scheduled to arrive at Keeneland later Wednesday.

Bonne Chance Farm’s Leblon jogged at The Thoroughbred Center in Lexington on his first day back on the track following a half-mile work in :49 on Monday.

Albaugh Family Stables’ Sittin On Go trained at Churchill Downs.

DUBAI WORLD CUP WINNER MYSTIC GUIDE TO RETURN TO KEENELAND

Godolphin’s homebred Mystic Guide, who won the $12 million Dubai World Cup (G1) on Saturday, is expected to arrive at trainer Mike Stidham’s Keeneland barn this Saturday. The trip will mark the 4-year-old’s return to Keeneland, where he received his early education.

Two years ago, Mystic Guide was conditioned at Godolphin’s division at the Keeneland Training Center adjacent to the track on Rice Road before he launched his racing career. He turned in his first five timed works here in 2019.

Godolphin USA President Jimmy Bell noted that bringing out the best in Mystic Guide was a team effort.

“He was a little immature mentally and physically,” Bell said. “The key was the patience everyone displayed during his pre-training (first) in Florida, his time at Keeneland with John Burke and (later) with trainer Mike Stidham.”

Mystic Guide joined Stidham’s fleet late in his 2-year-old season and debuted with a third-place finish the following year at Fair Grounds. He scored his initial career victory at the same track on March 21, 2020, in his second start.

“He was not really ready to compete at the highest level,” Bell said. “The decision was made to not chase the Kentucky Derby ([G1] Presented by Woodford Reserve) and be ready for later races. We felt he would be a good 4-year-old. The patience has allowed him to develop.”

Mystic Guide earned his first stakes victory in the Jim Dandy (G2) at Saratoga last summer and won the Razorback (G3) at Oaklawn Park in February.

Following his sojourn at Keeneland, Mystic Guide is scheduled to join Stidham’s base at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland.

HARTY HOPES RACING LUCK COMES FAIR MAIDEN’S WAY IN MADISON

Trainer Eoin Harty is hoping that the second trip to Keeneland for Godolphin’s Fair Maiden has a better outcome than last fall’s initial venture to Lexington in an undercard race for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

“She had a very bad trip in the (Qatar) Fort Springs,” Harty understated of the run in which the filly had trouble at the start and was checked at the three-eighths pole. “She is overdue for some luck.”

Fair Maiden comes to town for Saturday’s $300,000 Madison (G1) going 7 furlongs on the main track and will have Brian Hernandez Jr. aboard for the first time.

In the Madison, she will be trying to make amends for an eighth-place finish in the Santa Monica (G2) at Santa Anita on Feb. 13.

“She was stuck down on the inside and when they hit the main track (out of the chute) the rider tapped her to hold position and she took off with him,” Harty said. “She is a little quirky and if you tap her, you had better mean it. He had to hit the brakes for the next three-eighths.”

A winner also on the all-weather surface at Arlington and the turf at Woodbine, Fair Maiden scored her biggest victory in the La Brea (G1) at Santa Anita to close an abbreviated 2020 campaign.

“She sustained a condylar fracture in the (2019) Breeders’ Cup (Juvenile Fillies Turf-G1),” Harty said of the reason for the 10-month break in races before a September return. “We gave her plenty of time.”

Fair Maiden has had five works at Santa Anita since the Santa Monica with the most recent being a 5-furlong drill in 1:01.60 on Sunday. She arrived at Keeneland on Monday.

“We go race by race with her, but the Madison was a race we planned to enter,” Harty said. “This is a good spot.”

DON’T FORGET TO CHECK AVAILABILITY OF TICKETS FOR SPRING MEET

Fans interested in attending the races during Keeneland’s 15-day Spring Meet, which begins Friday and runs through April 23, are encouraged to check tickets.keeneland.com throughout the season for last-minute ticket and dining packages.

General Admission packages, which include admission, a program and a $10 food and beverage card, remain for Wednesdays and Thursdays during the meet.

In accordance with Keeneland’s COVID-19 protocols, all tickets are being sold in advance. Because Keeneland is offering a 48-hour return policy for patrons, tickets might become available.

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Jennie Rees