Speed held sway in the graded turf routes at Santa Anita on Saturday, as Masteroffoxhounds and Beyond Brilliant, respectively, dictated terms in the John Henry Turf Championship (G2) and City of Hope Mile (G2).
John Henry Turf Championship (G2)
Winless since the 2021 San Marcos (G2), Rockingham Ranch’s Masteroffoxhounds capitalized as the controlling speed in the $200,500 John Henry at the same 1 1/4-mile trip. The 2.10-1 chance recovered from a slightly bobbling start to take over, and Umberto Rispoli masterfully judged the pace. After an opening quarter in :24.51 on the firm turf, the Phil D’Amato trainee got away with fractions of :48.88 and 1:13.74.
Masteroffoxhounds quickened to the mile in 1:37.00 and poached a decisive advantage. Dicey Mo Chara and Gold Phoenix, D’Amato’s 13-10 favorite, closed the gap, but too late. Masteroffoxhounds held on by a neck from Dicey Mo Chara in a final time of 1:59.79.
Gold Phoenix, another head away in third, arguably accomplished his objective in defeat. Bound for the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) after his “Win and You’re In” coup in the Del Mar H. (G2), the lightly-raced four-year-old was furthering his preparations for Keeneland.
The other D’Amato runner, Cash Equity, reported home another 3 1/4 lengths back in fourth. Tropical Terror, who was all at sea early on the dirt crossover, and Breakpoint rounded out the order of finish.
Masteroffoxhounds has compiled a record of 19-4-3-3, $496,040. Initially based in Ireland, the son of War Front eventually arrived stateside in the Richard Baltas barn in 2020. His breakthrough in the San Marcos stamped him as an up-and-comer on the turf scene, but the bay failed to follow up. Masteroffoxhounds snared minor awards in last year’s San Luis Rey (G3), the Apr. 30 Charles Whittingham (G2), and the May 30 Shoemaker Mile (G1) (in his first start for D’Amato). The five-year-old was subsequently fifth in both the Eddie Read (G2) and Del Mar ‘Cap.
Bred by Orpendale/Chelston/Wynatt in Kentucky, Masteroffoxhounds is out of Grade 1-placed stakes vixen Outstanding. The Galileo mare is a full sister to Magician, the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner, and Grade 3 scorer Apple Betty.
City of Hope Mile (G2)
Beyond Brilliant had a similarly straightforward passage as the 9-10 favorite in the $200,500 City of Hope Mile. Trained by John Shirreffs and piloted by Victor Espinoza, the C R K Stable runner had to turn on the engine to secure the lead, then held sway comfortably. Beyond Brilliant carved out splits of :22.67, :46.16, and 1:09.37 and polished off the mile in 1:32.61.
Cathkin Peak rallied from last to cut the winner’s margin to three-quarters of a length. Prince Abama ran evenly in third, a head up on Kanderel, who had the same edge on Irideo. Tarantino retreated to last.
With this third graded score to his credit, Beyond Brilliant sports a mark of 14-5-3-2, $706,780. The Twirling Candy colt captured last fall’s Hollywood Derby (G1) over Santin and placed in the Twilight Derby (G2) and off-the-turf Mathis Brothers Mile (G2). In his four-year-old bow in the Mar. 5 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1), Beyond Brilliant set a very fast pace before tiring to a close fourth. He rebounded to wire the Charles Whittingham, beating Saturday’s John Henry hero Masteroffoxhounds, but regressed to sixth in the July 31 Eddie Read last out.
Beyond Brilliant was bred by Fred W. Hertrich III, John D. Fielding, and Robert L. Tribbett in Kentucky. His dam, Summer on the Lawn, is a First Defence half-sister to Grade 2 winner Summer Applause. The bay colt RNA’d for $50,000 as a Keeneland September yearling and later sold for $200,000 at Fasig-Tipton Midlantic’s May Sale as a two-year-old.