July 13, 2024

Green Mask punches ticket to Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint with Highlander victory

Green Mask justified 3-5 favoritism in the Highlander on Queen's Plate Day at Woodbine (Photo courtesy Holly M. Smith)

Fresh off a hard-luck runner-up finish to a world record performance in the Jaipur Stakes (G3) on Belmont Stakes Day, Green Mask raided Queen’s Plate day at Woodbine, winning the Highlander Stakes (G2) and a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1).

Green Mask has won two of five races this year while never being worse than third, and trainer Brad Cox indicated the six-year-old Mizzen Mast gelding would get some time off before a final prep for the Breeders’ Cup in November at Del Mar.

“We know he can handle the five furlongs, so we’ll give him some time, bring him back and hopefully he’ll be nice and sharp,” Cox said.

Racing Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano was effusive in his praise for his mount, telling Cox when returning for the winner’s circle ceremony, “He ran awesome; this is a really nice horse.”

Commute went to the lead from the rail, and Green Mask raced midpack with Castellano starting to make his move on the far turn before really hitting the gas straightening for home. Graded stakes winner Calgary Cat chased the winner home but was no threat late.

“I thought we’d be a tick closer, but Javier knows what he’s doing,” Cox said. “He’s in such great form right now, but he’s never really had a break. We want to come in buzzing for the Breeders’ Cup.”

Green Mask finished fifth—beaten just 2 ¾ lengths—in last year’s Turf Sprint down the hill at Santa Anita Park. He’s raced six times in about seven months. He’s now won 7 of 26 races lifetime with earnings approaching $1-million.