Cheyenne Stables’ Mastery turned in a beautiful performance in the $400,000 G2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park on Saturday, March 11. For a few strides after the wire, it appeared he would be the obvious favorite for the Kentucky Derby, but those thoughts vanished after he was pulled up with an injury during the gallop out.
The undefeated colt took the lead from the start to set the pace from the start, stalked by Gormley and Iliad, and set fractions of :23.50 for the quarter mile and :46.79 for the half. They ticked through six furlongs in 1:10.48, at which point Gormley set forth to challenge the leader. But the Grade 1 winner could not keep up and began to drop back as Iliad looked to make his move. Mastery, under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, was not to be deterred and deflected both horses with ease. He looked every bit the professional as he drew away down the stretch to hit the wire 6 ¾ lengths ahead of his competitors.
The final time for the 1 1/16-mile race was 1:42.28.
Iliad finished second, followed by Term of Art, who came from last in the field of seven to pass Gormley late.
Smith began to pull his mount up after the wire and jumped off of him in the turn.
“I got off real quick and nothing is dislocated and everything seemed fine, and after he moved for a little bit, he started walking on it. I’m hoping maybe he just tweaked it or rolled it and that it’s nothing serious, because he’s an incredible horse,” Smith said.
Unfortunately, the injury was more severe than just a tweak; after the race, Cheyenne Stables owner Everett Dobson stated that Mastery sustained a condylar fracture in his left front leg. Surgery will be performed in the coming days.
“It will require a few screws to be inserted and he’s going to have to take some significant time off – several months off. Obviously it’s incredibly disappointing. It’s difficult to find horses of this talent and have them run in your colors,” said Dobson.
“This is a really talented horse,” said Smith. “The power is endless with this guy. He’s some kinda strong. He was hitting gears every time I asked him to. Everything seemed to come easy to him. That was a pretty impressive race. I’m just hoping everything is OK.”
Mastery was one of trainer Bob Baffert’s top Derby prospects this year. “We’ve been so high on this horse and you see what he did today, which was incredible…and I’m walking down and I hear one of the fans say, ‘I hope your horse is alright,’” the Hall of Famer said after the race. “We won’t know until after the surgery whether or not this will be career ending.”