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.