June 24, 2024

Master of the Seas tops deep renewal of Maker’s Mark Mile

Master of the Seas wins the Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1) at Santa Anita (Photo by Horsephotos.com)

Perhaps the most spine-tingling finish to a 2023 Breeders’ Cup race occurred in the Mile (G1), when Master of the Seas rallied in the nick of time to edge fellow Godolphin homebred Mawj by the narrowest of nostrils. Now six, Master of the Seas kicks off his 2024 campaign in Friday’s $600,000 Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) at Keeneland in what might be one of a number of jaunts to the U.S. this season for the son of Dubawi.

Master of the Seas was on the right side of the photo with the three-year-old filly Mawj, but was on the wrong side in his start prior in the Coolmore Turf Mile (G1) at Keeneland, where he was caught by Up to the Mark. That result proved costly at Eclipse Award time, as Up to the Mark was named champion turf male. The voting result might have been different if Master of the Seas could have added the Keeneland race to his Breeders’ Cup title and an earlier success in the Woodbine Mile (G1).

Master of the Seas is the class of Friday’s field, but is surely no shoe-in. Godolphin and trainer Charlie Appleby have also entered Naval Power, who has won all but one of his seven career starts. The most recent of these was a two-length decision in the Feb. 23 Singspiel (G2) at Meydan, Naval Power’s first race in 13 months.

Another entrant with European roots is Kubrick, a Group 3 winner in France at two and easy winner in a March 1 Tampa Bay Downs allowance in his U.S. debut for owner Peter Brant and trainer Chad Brown.

The U.S.-based contingent is similarly strong. Integration was hyped as potentially the next big domestic turf star when he started favorite in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) in late January. However, he finished fifth that day in what was his first loss in four starts and it remains to be seen whether he will be as effective over a mile as he is over nine furlongs.

Shirl’s Speight lost to Master of the Seas twice last fall at Woodbine and Santa Anita, but tends to bring his A-game to Keeneland. The seven-year-old won his stakes debut in this race two years ago by a nose, and later that season finished second to Modern Games in the Breeders’ Cup Mile here at odds of 55-1.

The Bob Baffert-trained Du Jour fared poorly in the Breeders’ Cup Mile two back, but that effort is book-ended by wins in the Del Mar Mile (G2) and Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1). Emmanuel is a five-time graded winner, though wasn’t competitive in this spot 12 months ago. The Chad Brown-trained Equitize has won two of three, though was well beaten by Integration in his lone stakes appearance in the Hill Prince (G2) last November.

Earlier in the card, a full field of three-year-old fillies will dash 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf in the $250,000 Limestone S. The marquee name is Crimson Advocate, who trainer George Weaver shipped to England last June to win the Queen Mary (G2) at Royal Ascot. The daughter of Nyquist was subsequently sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1).