Katerina Vassilieva and Big Bazinga.
Each week until the opening day of the Woodbine Thoroughbred meeting in 2022, a household name in the sport will be in the spotlight, answering some fun, offbeat questions and giving readers a unique perspective on their personalities.
Katerina Vassilieva’s connection with horses began at the age of 11. After completing her master’s degree in genetics, she made the decision to pursue a career in thoroughbred racing. Vassilieva, who has worked as a hotwalker, groom, training rider and assistant trainer, obtained her trainer’s license since 2011. Her home ground is Woodbine, but she has campaigned successfully at several tracks in the United States, including Gulfstream Park, Keeneland and Belmont Park. Her biggest star to date is Big Bazinga, who took the Kentucky Derby track in 2014 and gave Vassilieva the chance to compete in some of North America’s most prestigious classification races. The multi-stakeholder trainer posted a 20 percent win average in 2016 and a 25 percent success rate in 2020.
You get the chance to be on a TV show, then or now. Which is it and why?
“The X-Files was my favorite show growing up as a kid. Before I became a horse trainer, I wanted to be a forensic scientist, so I really liked that show because it was all about forensics, detectives and solving mysteries. That’s the show I’d definitely like to be on.”
What genre of music brings you to the dance floor?
“I like listening to electronic dance music, club music, essentially. I think people might be surprised that I listen to it, but I find it very cheerful and it lifts my mood. I’ve enjoyed that kind of music since I was young. I haven’t been on the dance floor lately, but I think my moves are pretty good.”
What is your food shortage?
‘That’s easy… pies and pastries. Anything sweet, really. I have a huge sweet tooth. Pies or pastries, I never say no. Same with donuts. To be humble, I might reject them, but secretly I would eat them.”
Aside from the Queen’s Plate, what’s your must-see race on the Woodbine racing calendar?
“Personally I always look forward to the Gray Stakes because I had that horse Big Bazinga and he came second in that race (in 2013). It gave us 10 points and it kick-started our hopes of running in the Kentucky Derby. That’s a really exciting race for me because those are the horses that can eventually run in the Derby. ”
Would you rather call a race or guest host as a race analyst?
“I would definitely prefer race analyst over race caller. I don’t know how race callers do what they do. Thinking so fast and doing it so fast, it’s just amazing. It’s really incredible how race callers can remember all those names and talk about their order in the race. So I would choose race analyst because then I would have more time to think about what I was going to say and more time to research so it would sound like I knew what I was talking about.”
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