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Mastery wins San Felipe, but sustains post-race injury

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ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) Mastery won the $400,000 San Felipe Stakes by 6 3/4 lengths on Saturday, but the colt sustained a fracture in his leg after the finish, ending his Kentucky Derby hopes.

Trainer Bob Baffert says Mastery has a condylar fracture, the most common seen in thoroughbreds. The colt will undergo surgery Monday with screws inserted in his left front ankle.

Baffert says he won’t know until after the surgery whether the injury is career-ending.

But it knocked Mastery off the Derby trail, the latest setback among this year’s 3-year-old contenders. Already out of contention are Not This Time, Klimt and Syndergaard.

It was a huge blow to Baffert, who trained American Pharoah to the sport’s first Triple Crown sweep in 2015.

“He’s just a beautiful moving horse,” he said before knowing the full extent of Mastery’s injury. “He was just doing it easy. It’s very rare to get one like that. You go from seeing the next coming, and then something like that happens. I’ve never dealt with anything like that.”

Ridden by Mike Smith, Mastery led all the way and ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.28 at Santa Anita. The 4-5 favorite paid $3.60, $2.40 and $2.10.

Mastery was pulled up near the turn by Smith, who removed the colt’s saddle. He was vanned off.

“I felt it about 10 jumps after the wire. All of a sudden he just picked his back leg up,” Smith said. “Then a minute or so and he put it down and he was fine.”

Mastery was making his 3-year-old debut after winning all three of his starts last year. He earned the 50 points awarded to the winner, putting the colt second on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard that decides the 20-horse field for the May 6 race.

After watching from his box, an initially exhilarated Baffert made his way through the stands.

“I hear one of the fans say, `I hope your horse is all right,”‘ he said. “I thought, `What?”‘

After arriving in a strangely empty winner’s circle, Baffert watched the race replay, looking for any hint of trouble.

Standing next to his wife and Mastery’s owner, Everett Dobson of Oklahoma City, Baffert tried to process his emotions after the roller coaster experience.

“We’ve been so high on this horse,” he said. “To see what he did today was just incredible. It was going to put him best 3-year-old in the nation.”

He was interrupted by a call from assistant Jimmy Barnes, who reported Mastery walked off the van seemingly in good order.

But after being bathed, Baffert said the colt showed some filling in his left front ankle.

San Vicente winner Iliad returned $3.40 and $2.60, while Term of Art was another 1 3/4 lengths back in third and paid $5.40 to show. Both colts are trained by Doug O’Neill. Iliad was trained by Baffert in his first two starts before a split between him and owner Kaleem Shah.

Sham Stakes winner Gormley finished fourth, followed by Ann Arbor Eddie, Bluegrass Envy and Vending Machine.

Tiger Roll wins Grand National in photo finish

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AINTREE, England — Tiger Roll won the Grand National Steeplechase in a photo finish over Pleasant Company as Irish horses dominated the world’s most famous steeplechase at Aintree on Saturday.

A 4 1/2-mile (6,400-meter) race was won by a matter of inches in the closest finish to the Grand National since 2012, when Neptune Collonges won by a nose.

Tiger Roll, a 10-1 shot, was leading by as much as 10 lengths in the long run to the line, but only just held off the fast-finishing Pleasant Company (25-1) to win a first prize of 500,000 pounds ($710,000).

“I did have a big fear,” said jockey Davy Russell, who won the race for the first time at his 14th attempt. “It would have been heartbreaking.”

The first four horses home in the National were from Ireland, including Bless The Wings (40-1) and Anibale Fly (10-1).

It was the second National victory for both trainer Gordon Elliott, who also won with Silver Birch in 2007, and owner Michael O’Leary, who had 2016 winner Rule The World. O’Leary is chief executive of budget airline Ryanair.

“We bought the horse as a pint-sized hurdler,” O’Leary said, “but he’s got a heart of a lion.”

Russell grew up dreaming of winning the National. As a child, he erected Aintree-style fences in his garden and pretended to ride a horse over them.

“I’ve won this race thousands of times (in my head),” Russell said. “But not like this.”

David Mullins, the jockey of Pleasant Company, said he thought he was well-beaten after jumping the next-to-last fence.

“Davy was going so much better than me,” Mullins said.

That seemed to be the case as the horses made it past the elbow in the run to the line, but Pleasant Company closed in as Tiger Roll faded. It was too close to call as they crossed the line and the 171st edition of the race required a photo finish to separate them.

Total Recall went off as the 7-1 favorite but fell.

 

Baffert: McKinzie won’t run in Santa Anita Derby

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ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) McKinzie will miss the Santa Anita Derby on April 7 because of an unspecified problem.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert confirmed the colt won’t run in the West Coast’s major prep for the Kentucky Derby due to an issue in one of his hind legs. X-rays and scans haven’t confirmed what it is.

Baffert said Saturday in Dubai that McKinzie is “definitely out,” according to multiple media reports. He says he’s being “very cautious.”

The colt edged Bolt d’Oro in the San Felipe Stakes on March 10, but was disqualified and placed second for interference in the stretch.

McKinzie was 10th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 40 points for owners Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman. The colt won the Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity on Dec. 9 and the Sham Stakes on Jan. 6.

Baffert was in the Middle East to saddle West Coast and Mubtaahij to second- and third-place finishes in the $10 million Dubai World Cup.