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Homeracing

The highs and lows of Mastery's San Felipe

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TwinSpires Staff

March 12th, 2017

by SCOTT SHAPIRO

ARCADIA, Calif. -- The ups and downs of Thoroughbred racing were once again on hand Saturday at Santa Anita.
 
Mastery, the undefeated son of Candy Ride, took the lead early and finished strong en route to a 6 3/4-length victory in the San Felipe (G2). However, about 10 strides after the wire, the colt was pulled up by jockey Mike Smith and vanned off.
 
Smith's post-race concerns became a reality shortly after he arrived back at the barn. He seemed okay at first according to trainer Bob Baffert, but positive signs turned negative when he got off the wash rack and it was determined he had a condylar fracture.
 
When asked about his colt's injury the Hall of Fame conditioner stated, "He'll be operated this Monday...We won't know until after the surgery whether or not this is career-ending."
 
Prior to the post-race injury, the highly regarded undefeated colt put on a show in his first start of 2017.
 
The Cheyenne Stables runner did not break alertly, but was taken right to the front by jockey Mike Smith, who was able to dictate moderate early fractions, turn away a challenge on the far turn and easily dispose of a field of six rivals in the first of several graded stakes races on Big 'Cap Day at "The Great Race Place."
 
After the race, discussion was focused on the injury, not the dominating win.
 
When asked about the post-race incident, Mastery's Hall of Fame rider said, "Nothing happened to make me think, 'Oh, something just happened.' He just all the sudden went off and wouldn't put weight on it. I got off real quick and nothing seemed dislocated or anything."
 
While Mastery's performance before the post-race mishap was awesome, his rivals were exposed.
 
Runner-up Iliad stalked the winner throughout and appeared poised to challenge him in the stretch, but lacked the necessary rally. He did earn 20 Kentucky Derby points, but in the end he may be better suited competing at one turn. Time will tell.
 
The most disappointing of the trio of logical contenders in the San Felipe was Grade 1 winner Gormley. The John Shirreffs trainee once again did not appear at his best before the race and was the first to give way when the real running started.
 
Despite having earned 10 points with his victory in the January's Sham (G3), the Malibu Moon colt has questions to answer in terms of his class and ability. He has earned 25 points in the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" standings so he may procure enough to get into the 2017 Run for the Roses. However, he was greatly overmatched on Saturday and may have already peaked as a racehorse. He will need to redeem himself in next month's Santa Anita Derby (G1) to at all be considered a contender the first Saturday in May.
 
The injury to Mastery and the sub-par performances by Gormley and Iliad did little to sort out the Triple Crown picture out west. Mastery's performance likely would have vaulted him to favoritism for the Derby, but his career is now in question. The others will likely continue on the Triple Crown trail, but it is hard to be optimistic about their chances moving forward.
 
We will learn more on April 8.

(Photo by Scott Shapiro)

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