Mastery enhanced his Kentucky Derby credentials with an impressive performance in Saturday’s $300,000 Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity (G1), drawing off to a resounding 7 1/4-length decision in his first two-turn start.
Mike Smith was up on the unbeaten Candy Ride colt, who picked up 10 points in the Kentucky Derby qualifier, and trainer Bob Baffert extended his record with a ninth overall Futurity victory, capturing the 1 1/16-mile race for the third straight year.
Favored at 1-5 over four rivals, Mastery missed the track record by .70 seconds when stopping the teletimer in 1:41.56.
Mastery, who runs in the Cheyenne Stables silks, recorded a 4 ¼-length decision when making his career bow in a 6-furlong maiden special weight at Santa Anita on October 22. He raced with blinkers in his debut but shed the headgear four weekes later when posting a 1 ¼-length tally in the seven-furlong Bob Hope (G3) at Del Mar. The dark bay was favored at 3-10 in both starts.
Baffert put blinkers back on for the Futurity and Mastery closely tracked pacesetter Bobby Abu Dhabi in second through opening splits in :23.37, :45.65 and 1:09.53. He took the lead turning for home and after facing a brief challenge from Irap in upper stretch, easily acclerated away in the final furlong.
“He relaxed very well, but I think a key point today was Bob (Baffert) putting the blinkers back on him today,” Smith said. “When he hit the front, he didn’t know where he was at and he put the brakes on there for a minute; it kinda worried me. Once I got into him and reminded him ‘it ain’t over, we ain’t done yet,’ man he jumped back into the bridle and finished really strong.
“Actually his gallop out was really good; his gallop out was probably faster than his last sixteenth.”
Irap, winless in two previous starts and the longest shot in the field at 23-1, held second by a 5 ¾-length margin over the late-running Dangerfield. It was another 13 ¾-length gap back to Bobby Abu Dhabi and Shw Me Da Lute trailed.
Bred in Kentucky by Stone Farm, Mastery sold for $425,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. He hails from the Old Trieste mare Steady Course, making him a half-brother to the stakes-winning filly Clear Sailing. Steady Course counts Grade 2 winner and sire Jump Start as a half-brother.