USA: Mastery shortens for Churchill after Futurity win

Bob Baffert: claimed a ninth win in the Futurity with Mastery

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker ( Mastery cut for Kentucky
Derby after Futurity win By Nicholas Godfrey 11:21AM 11 DEC 2016

Report: USA, Saturday

Los Alamitos: CashCall Futurity (Grade 1) 1m½f, dirt, 2yo

THE unbeaten Mastery (Bob Baffert/Mike Smith) is not far off ante-post favouritism for next year’s Kentucky Derby after a runaway victory that gave his trainer his ninth win in a race he made his own in its former guise as the Hollywood Futurity.

Made 1-5 favourite for Saturday’s $300,000 event, the son of Candy Ride took command on the far turn before scoring by more than seven lengths from outsider Irap. He stopped the clock in 1m41.56s.

"You don't know how they are going to do going two turns for the first time until they try it," said Baffert. "Turning for home he hit a bit of a lull and I didn't know if he was going go on or flatten out. Mike said it was a good thing I put the blinkers back on him because he hit the brakes when he made the lead but the last part he threw it in another gear."

Mastery is on offer with bookmakers anywhere between 11-1 and 16-1 for next year’s Kentucky Derby, where Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Classic Empire heads the market.

"He relaxed great today and I think the key was Bob putting the blinkers back on," Smith said. "He started looking around a little when he made the front in the stretch, but after I gave him a reminder, he re-broke and was strong."

Also on Saturday

Los Alamitos: Starlet Stakes (Grade 1) 1m½f, dirt, 2yo fillies

With the favourite American Gal compromised by another wide trip, Abel Tasman (Simon Callaghan/Joe Talamo) was able to wear down that rival in the stretch to win by a length.

"I think the distance is the key for this filly," said Callaghan, son of former Newmarket stalwart Neville. "We decided to supplement because she was getting good at the right time and I thought she had the stamina for this race."

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