Under the most confident of rides from jockey Mike Smith, the Candy Ride colt shrugged off a game challenge from multiple stakes winner California Diamond in the stretch and cruised to the wire to win by 1 1/4 lengths without asking. Watch Video
The Bob Baffert-trained colt, who won his debut by 4 1/4 lengths Oct. 22 at Santa Anita Park, finished off the seven furlongs 1:23.32. He travelled three wide the entire trip under Smith, and set fractions of :23.23 and :47.07 through a half-mile.
California Diamond, who entered on a three-stakes win streak, put in a hard-trying bid on the outside, but never seriously challenged the winner. California Diamond finished 1 1/2 lengths clear of Ann Arbor Eddie.
"The last 100 yards, I just squeezed him a little, to go ahead and pick it up," Smith said. "I had horses coming up on both sides and I said, 'All right, let's see what he does' ... because you want to see if he can go farther. Man, he jumped into the bridle and was all horse, and galloped out like it was nothing.
"He looks the part. He's a big, good-looking, strong horse ... I don't see any reason why he wouldn't go two turns."
After Mastery's debut win, Baffert made the decision to take blinkers off the colt, and was somewhat unsure of that decision when he turned for home in the Bob Hope.
"The second (start) is so important. He looked very impressive, but training into this race, he was training really well, so I was hoping for a good performance, but you don't know until you do it," Baffert said. "I just like the way, without the blinkers, it seemed like he was relaxed. ... I was watching Mike turning for home and he was just sitting on him, and I'm thinking 'Should I have left the blinkers on or not? What am I thinking?'
"All those things are going through my mind. Then, when he knuckled down on him in those last 100 yards, he took off."
The winner paid $2.60, $2.10, and $2.10 across the board. California Diamond delivered $2.60 and $2.10, and Ann Arbor Eddie brought $2.40 to show.
Bred in Kentucky by Stone Farm, out of the Old Trieste mare Steady Course, Mastery now has $91,200 in earnings from his two victories. He was a $425,000 purchase out of the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale.