12/12/2016 2:02PM

Road to the 2017 Kentucky Derby: CashCall Futurity analysis

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Benoit & Associates
Mastery wins the CashCall Futurity to remain unbeaten in three starts.

Grade 1, $300,000 Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity; 1 1/16 miles; Los Alamitos; Dec. 10, 2016
(10 Derby qualifying points for a win, 4 for second, 2 for third, 1 for fourth)

Winner: Mastery, by Candy Ride
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Jockey: Mike Smith
Owner: Cheyenne Stables LLC
Beyer Speed Figure: 91

MASTERY has been held in high regard by those closest to him since before he ever ran, and he completed his 2-year-old campaign by beating four overmatched rivals in this race, giving him a perfect 3-for-3 record as a juvenile. He won all three of his starts at different tracks.

He had won his first two starts sprinting, so this was his first try around two turns. Mastery handled that hurdle. His winning Beyer Figure was solid, certainly something on which he can build.

Mastery wore blinkers in his debut and did not have them for his second start, but Baffert and Smith thought he still needed them, so back on they went for this race. He broke well and then sat second, just outside of BOBBY ABU DHABI, heading into the first turn. He remained there down the backstretch, out in the middle of the track as Bobby Abu Dhabi raced well off the rail. He took the lead with three furlongs to go, but Bobby Abu Dhabi battled back along the rail and IRAP ranged up outside. Mastery’s ears went straight up with three-sixteenths to go, as though he was loafing, and Smith hit him left-handed. He then drew away, which likely had as much to do with him re-engaging as Irap not being able to go on with it late.

Mastery will have tougher competition than this down the line, and he’ll have to run better. But to indict him for who he beat here isn’t really fair, as it wasn’t his fault such a soft line-up faced him. The most telling aspect as to the potential quality of his race is that he attended a hot pace (23.37 seconds, 45.65, 1:09.53) and still finished up well, while the early pacesetter whom he stalked finished 26 3/4 lengths up the track. He’s done all asked of him, and for now that’s perfectly fine.

Irap, who finished second, is still a maiden and was making his first start on dirt and against winners. He was third into the first turn, just behind the two leaders, sat in an ideal spot heading into the far turn as the two leaders set a sharp pace, ranged up outside the leaders coming into the lane, then did not change leads until well into deep stretch and after Mastery had begun to pull away from him.

DANGERFIELD, who was third, had no early speed and trailed early, was outrun even further down the backstretch, went around SHOW ME DA LUTE on the far turn, ducked to the rail for the stretch drive, and never got close to the top two while finishing evenly.

Bobby Abu Dhabi, who was fourth, was given a tall order to go into this race off one start, a sprint win against maidens. He broke best of all to take the lead, set quick fractions – especially through the second quarter – while remaining in front of Mastery, tried to battle back heading into the lane, but emptied out badly through the stretch.

Show Me Da Lute, who finished last of five, was angled to the rail heading into the first turn and saved ground around that bend while inside Irap, started to lose significant ground down the backstretch, fell back to last with three furlongs to go, never picked up his feet thereafter, and was pretty much eased through the lane.