LEXINGTON, KY – George Krikorian’s homebred Big Score collared pace-setting Holiday Stone in the closing strides Holiday to win the 29th running of the $150,000 Transylvania (G3) Presented by Keeneland Select for 3-year-olds by a half-length on Friday before a Spring Meet opening-day crowd of 14,301.
Trained by Tim Yakteen and ridden by Javier Castellano, Big Score covered the 1 1/16 miles on a turf course rated as “good” in 1:43.23. It was the first Keeneland stakes victory for Yakteen and 31st for Castellano, who also won the 2015 Transylvania with Night Prowler.
Breaking from the outside post position, Holiday Stone outhustled Sonic Boom and odds-on favorite Oscar Performance for the lead and led the field of eight through fractions of :23.92, :48.48 and 1:13.17 as Big Score raced in fifth.
Castellano split horses in the upper stretch, shook clear of traffic at the eighth pole and gradually wore down Holiday Stone.
The victory was worth $90,000 and increased Big Score’s earnings to $237,800 with a record of 5-3-1-0. Now a two-time stakes winner, Big Score was making his first start since finishing fifth behind Oscar Performance in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) at Santa Anita in November.
Big Score is a Kentucky-bred son of Mr. Big out of the Unusual Heat mare Not Unusual.
Big Score returned $22.40, $10.40 and $7. Holiday Stone, ridden by Luis Saez, returned $26 and $13.80 and finished a length in front of Makarios, who paid $9.80 to show under Corey Lanerie.
Ticonderoga finished another three-quarters of a length back in fourth and was followed in order by Oscar Performance, Cowboy Culture, Sonic Boom and Profiteer.
Racing resumes Saturday at 1:05 p.m. ET with a spectacular 11-race program that includes five graded stakes headlined by the 93rd running of the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G2) for 3-year-olds aspiring to the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) in four weeks.
Also on the program are two Grade 1 races, the $500,000 Central Bank Ashland for 3-year-old fillies eyeing the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) on May 5 and the $300,000 Madison for fillies and mares.