As far as Baze was concerned, the key scratch for this $750,000 event was the morning line favorite Heatseeker, who was declared a day earlier with an ankle problem.
"When (Jerry) Hollendorfer's horse scratched, it really made my day," Baze told TVG. "To be here (in the winner's circle) after the Hollywood Gold Cup -- it's just a dream come true."
Bobby Frankel, Mast Track's owner, breeder and trainer, earned his third Gold Cup win, following Aptitude in in 2001 and Marquetry in 1991, both for Juddmonte Farms. Mast Track, a 4-year-old colt by Mizzen Mast --Nawal (by Homme de Loi), ran the 1 1/4-mile Gold Cup distance in 2:01.37.
For the Gold Cup, Frankel returned blinkers to Mast Track, who won by more than two lengths and never appeared threatened at any point in the race. He set easy quarter-mile fractions of :24.41 and :48.88 for the first half-mile was on a lonely three-length while making his way up the backstretch under a motionless Baze. Student Council and McCann's Mojave, the closest to the pacesetter on the outside, failed to increase the pressure on the final turn. At the top of the stretch Mast Track was still in command and looking fresh.
"We knew there was no speed in the race," Baze said. "They put blinkers on him because they wanted him to make the lead. I just let him get comfortable by himself and find his own stride. He just jumped into the bridle at the three-eighths and from then on it was just a matter of could we hold them off or not."
Go Between, the slight 2-1 favorite ridden by Garrett Gomez, tried to make a race of it through the lane but couldn't make an impact on the winner and settled for second, 2 1/4 lengths behind.
"There just wasn't much pace," Gomez lamented. "I tried to do everything that we could do without putting my horse on the lead or in second. He handled everything I needed him to do. I got right to the fence. I had plenty of time to catch that horse. But when they went that slow, when my horse kicked in the other horse kicked too."
Go Between was clear by two lengths of the show horse, Student Council, who had Shaun Bridgmohan aboard. McCann's Mojave held fourth as the big closer Tiago failed to menace and finished sixth.
"I had a perfect trip, I couldn't have asked for a better trip," Bridgmohan said. "They went slow and I was close enough to the pace. Obviously the winner ran a very good race."
Mast Track has raced seven of his nine lifetime starts on grass, finishing fifth in his grade I debut last time out in the Shoemaker Mile on Hollywood's grass course. He won over the synthetic surface at Santa Anita at one mile in his prior start against an allowance field April 20 and also finished second over that track. But he had never raced on the Hollywood main track surface -- although he had trained over it -- nor had he been farther than 1 1/16 miles.
"Last time when he ran in the Shoemaker Mile, (Jose) Valdivia rode him and he told me to tell Bobby that he needed blinkers," said Humberto Asciano, Frankel's West Coast assistant. "Bobby has a lot of confidence in this horse. After Heatseeker scratched it was anybody’s race, I guess.”
The bay's fifth lifetime win was worth $450,000 and pushed his earnings to $614,622.
Mast Track paid $23.60, $11.20 and $7.40, topping a $2 exacta worth $93. Peter Vegso's multiple graded winner Go Between, shipped from New York by trainer Bill Mott for the Gold Cup this week, returned $3.40 and $3. Student Council, who won last summer's Pacific Classic (gr. I) as well as the Pimlico Special (gr. I) for Steve Asmussen last month, was $4 to show.
Big Booster, Tiago, Racketeer, Perfect Drift and Spice Route completed the order.
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