Masar has what it takes

Daily Racing Form Saturday Stakes Preview - - FRONT PAGE -

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

BAR­BARA D. LIV­INGSTON

Masar, trained by Char­lie Ap­pleby, is a luke­warm 9-2 morn­ing-line fa­vorite in the Ju­ve­nile Turf.

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