Masar has what it takes
By Marcus Hersh
DEL MAR, Calif. – Trainer Charlie Appleby’s perfect Breeders’ Cup record is on the line when Masar starts Friday in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
Okay, so Appleby, the England- and Dubai-based private trainer for Godolphin, has had only one Breeders’ Cup starter: Outstrip, who won this very race in 2013. By Friday night, Appleby either will be 1 for 2 or will have joined Buff Bradley as the only 2 for 2 Breeders’ Cup trainers.
Masar at about 3:50 p.m. Pacific will be among 14 2-yearolds flying around a tight Del Mar turf course with $1 million at stake. Luck will be required in equal proportion to talent. But tactical pace, athleticism, and acceleration help a horse make luck, and Masar possesses those qualities.
“I think he ticks a lot of boxes,” Appleby said.
Masar doesn’t stand out. He’s a mild 9-2 morning-line favorite. Like Outstrip, he was third making his Group 1 debut before coming to California. In the Group 1 Prix Jean-luc Lagardere on Oct. 1 at Chantilly, Masar was head and head for the lead with a half-furlong of uphill finish left, but victorious Happily (who runs in the Juvenile Fillies Turf ) got away from him late.
“He didn’t run poorly,” Appleby said. “The soft ground would’ve been the main concern. Here he gets back on a sound surface, and I think the mile’s perfect.”
Masar made a favorable impression winning the Group 3 Solario Stakes around a turn at Sandown in September. A good post position, 6, should help jockey William Buick on Friday.
Group 1 Dewhurst winner U S Navy Flag would’ve been the Juvenile Turf favorite, but trainer Aidan O’brien opted for the Juvenile with him. Instead, he’ll try the Dewhurst runner-up, Mendelssohn, who despite being a second-stringer deserves ample consideration. O’brien has sent a runner to eight runnings of the Juvenile Turf and come away with three wins and three seconds.
Mendelssohn, a $3 million auction buy, is a work in progress. He has finished seventh and eighth in two starts and first and second in two others. The Dewhurst marked his first race in blinkers.
“He was looking at everything, not concentrating, very immature mentally,” O’brien said. “We put a pair of blinkers on him at home one day and he took off in his work. He changed completely. You’re never sure until you run them, but we ran him, and it was a big run in the Dewhurst.”
Mendelssohn pulled hard early in the Dewhurst, and from post 1 on Friday jockey Ryan Moore might let him come out running.
Among the other Europeans (all race on Lasix), Rajasinghe ran poorly last out and drew poorly in post 14. Beckford was a slightly troubled fifth in the Middle Park Stakes and has done little to suggest he can break out, while Sands of Mali might prefer shorter distances. So might James Garfield, but first-time Breeders’ Cup trainer George Scott thinks he’ll get a mile. James Garfield, who gets the services of Frankie Dettori, was beaten a nose on soft ground in the Group 3 Acorn and preferred the firmer going over which he won the Group 2 Mill Reef.
“He’s tailor-made for a sharp track like Del Mar,” Scott said.
Yes, there are American horses in the Juvenile Turf, but the Beyer Speed Figure par in the Juvenile Turf is 90, and the highest figure from any of them is 80.
Snapper Sinclair almost was excluded from the Juvenile Turf but has looked as good as any American 2-year-old turf horse winning a Saratoga sprint maiden and the Kentucky Downs Juvenile. Snapper Sinclair was shipped several weeks ago to California by trainer Steve Asmussen and worked strongly over Santa Anita’s grass.
Snapper Sinclair figures to track the pace from post 11, while Hemp Hemp Hurray in post 12 will use his speed, trainer Wesley Ward said. Hemp Hemp Hurray finished second last out in the Summer Stakes at Woodbine to Untamed Domain, who improved with blinkers added by trainer Graham Motion and also runs back in the Juvenile Turf.
Before winning the Summer Stakes, Untamed Domain was third Aug. 30 at Saratoga in the Grade 3 With Anticipation to Catholic Boy, who was subsequently freshened for this race
Masar, trained by Charlie Appleby, is a lukewarm 9-2 morning-line favorite in the Juvenile Turf.