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It's a steal for Mast Track

He takes the lead in the Hollywood Gold Cup and doesn't give it up, winning at 10-1 odds. Go Between finishes second, Tiago sixth.

June 29, 2008|Larry Stewart | Times Staff Writer

With favored Heatseeker out of the picture, it figured to be a wide-open Hollywood Gold Cup. And that's what it turned out to be.

Mast Track, a 10-1 longshot, led gate to wire to pull off a stunning victory in Saturday's 69th running of the Gold Cup at Hollywood Park.

Go Between, who moved into the favorite's role after Heatseeker was scratched Friday because of a swollen and puffy left front ankle, finished second, 2 1/4 lengths back.

Student Council, winner of last summer's Pacific Classic at Del Mar, was third and McCann's Mojave fourth.

Tiago, winner of the 2007 Santa Anita Derby and the Oaklawn Handicap in Arkansas on April 5, finished a disappointing sixth in the nine-horse field.

Mast Track, owned and trained by Bobby Frankel, had finished fifth in the Grade I Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park on Memorial Day. And despite a win in an allowance race at Santa Anita on April 20, the 4-year-old son of Mizzen Mast had not been given much of a chance of winning Hollywood Park's signature event.

Mast Track, a winner in five of 10 starts, collected $450,000 from the $750,000 purse to boost his earnings to $614,622.

Frankel, who was in Los Angeles on business earlier in the week, wasn't at Hollywood Park on Saturday. He was in New York, tending to the business there.

His assistant, Humberto Ascanio, said Frankel had given him instructions earlier Saturday.

"Bobby told me this morning to make sure this horse was put onto the lead," Ascanio said. "When they went the first quarter in 24:48 I had a good feeling, then they went three-quarters and I thought, 'Man, that's it.' "

Mast Track, who covered the Gold Cup distance of 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.37, paid $23.60 to win. A $1 exacta to Go Between paid $46.20.

"I was a little bit worried the last sixteenth of a mile," Ascanio said. "[Garrett] Gomez [on Go Between] was getting after him, but he still had a lot left."

Putting blinkers on Mast Track may have been a key.

"Last time when he ran in the Shoemaker Mile, [Jose] Valdivia rode him and he told me to tell Bobby that he needed blinkers," Ascanio said.

"Bobby has a lot of confidence in this horse. After Heatseeker scratched, it was anybody's race, I guess."

Ascanio said the Pacific Classic at Del Mar in August might be next for Mast Track, but that would be Frankel's decision.

It was Frankel's third win in the Gold Cup.

Marquetry scored a front-running victory for Frankel in 1991 and had a Gold Cup-record payoff of $56.80. Frankel's second Gold Cup win came in 2001, when Aptitute finished second but moved up when Futural was disqualified for interference.

Jockey Tyler Baze rode Mast Track for the first time, and this was his first Gold Cup victory. Baze would have ridden Lava Man had trainer Doug O'Neill not chosen to bypass the race.

"It's just a dream being here," Baze said after the race. "Everything just worked out right. We knew there was no speed in the race.

"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."

Of Go Between's second-place finish, Gomez said: "There just wasn't much pace. 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."

John Shirreffs, Tiago's trainer, said: "I thought Tiago would run a little better. Not today. Next time."

------

Jack Liebau, Hollywood Park president, told the California Horse Racing Board at a meeting in Pleasanton on Friday that the track is committed to staying open for racing through the 2009 spring-summer meet.

He said there would probably also be a fall meet at the track next year and that racing into 2010 was a possibility.

The Bay Meadows Land Co., which owns the track, has expressed plans to tear it down and develop the property with condominiums, apartments and businesses.

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larry.stewart@latimes.com

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