Mastery turned in a dominating performance in winning Saturday's $400,000 San Felipe S. (G2), defeating Iliad by 6 3/4-lengths.
Post-race enthusiasm was dampened when jockey Mike Smith dismounted the Cheyenne Stables' colt on the turn following the gallop-out. Mastery walked onto the horse ambulance van under his own power.
About an hour after the race, TVG reported that trainer Bob Baffert said that Mastery had suffered a non life-threatening left front leg injury, but that the colt was off the Kentucky Derby trail and would be given time to recover.
Prior to the race, Baffert was concerned about other speed horses in the race, but Mastery's extremely alert break from the gate had the 3-year-old in front going into the first turn. Mastery was pressed by Gormley and Iliad through a half-mile in :46.79.
Gormley began to fade about three furlongs from the wire, and Iliad gave way soon after as Mastery began to pull away at the top of the stretch. Under a hand ride through the final sixteenth, he finished in 1:42.28 for the 1 1/16-miles.
“This is a really talented horse,” said Smith after arriving back at the winner's circle. The power, it’s endless with this guy. He’s some kind of strong. He was hitting gears every time I asked him to. Gear down one, gear up two, gear down one.
“Everything seemed to come easy for him. That was a pretty impressive race. I’m just hoping everything is okay”
Before word came down on the extent of Mastery's injury, Baffert praised the colt's performance.
“We’ve been so high on this horse, and you see what he did today was just incredible and puts him as the best 3-year-old in the nation,” said Baffert. “I’m walking down and I hear a fan say ‘I hope your horse is all right.’ I said ‘What?!’ and he said ‘I hear they’re unsaddling him.’ We went from the highest of the highs to somber.
“The way he moves – he’s just a beautiful moving horse. He was just doing it easy. It’s very rare to get one like that. You go from seeing the next coming, and then something like that happens. I’ve never dealt with anything like that. I thought maybe it was heat or something.”
Mastery's San Felipe win was his fourth in as many starts, which includes victories in the Bob Hope S. (G3) and Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity (G1). The son of Candy Ride (ARG) has now won $511,200.