08/06/2017 7:57PM

Green Mask impresses in Troy Handicap victory

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Barbara D. Livingston
Green Mask fell just shy of a track record in winning Sunday's Troy Handicap at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Green Mask arguably established himself as the leader in the clubhouse in the turf sprint division after turning in a near record-setting performance en route to a 1 1/2-length victory over Holding Gold in Sunday’s $250,000 Troy Handicap at Saratoga.

Green Mask has now won four times and not been worse than second in seven starts since finishing a troubled fifth in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. All four of those victories, including the Troy, have come in stakes races, the last three with newly elected Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano aboard.

Green Mask broke alertly and settled within easy striking distance off the dueling leaders Bold Thunder and Pure Sensation in the run down the backstretch, readily assumed command in early stretch, drew clear near the furlong marker, then maintained his advantage under steady urging to the end. Green Mask’s final time of 1:00.49 seconds fell just .03 seconds shy of the 5 1/2-furlong track record set by Lady Shipman nearly two years earlier.

Holding Gold swung five wide while commencing his rally into the stretch and finished willingly to be second-best, a half-length in front of Long On Value. Undrafted, Mongolian Saturday, Pure Sensation and the tiring Bold Thunder completed the order of finish.

Green Mask, who finished second by a neck to Disco Partner in the 2016 Troy, is trained by Brad Cox for owner Abdullah Saeed Almaddah. He paid $5.00.

“That was impressive,” said Cox. “He’s been training well. His last breeze here Monday was fantastic. He’s figured out how to win. Going into last fall we wondered whether he knew how to win any more.  He obviously has picked it up and is in great form right now. He broke very sharp today, Javier put him in good position behind the two dueling on the front end, and it worked out great. [Castellano] just fits him really well. He’s really responded to Javier.”

:: Saratoga Clocker Report: Get in-depth workout analysis for the 2017 summer meet

Cox said he’ll likely consider one more start for Green Mask prior to the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Del Mar on Nov. 4.