Filly Facing Males in the El Camino Real Derby Prep

Mandatory Payout of the Pick-6 on Friday at Golden Gate – Starts in Race 3


A racehorse trainer will tell you that dealing with unforeseen circumstances and re-routing horses to different races is all part of the job. For trainer Jamey Thomas, both scenarios took place when determining where to run chestnut filly Mastery Kat, one of the top 3-year-olds under his care.

Golden gate turf break“We were actually going to run her down south [at Santa Anita],” said Thomas. “It rained up here, we missed a work, so we waited. Then there was another race we were going to try and the race didn’t fill.”

At that point, Thomas opted to execute Plan C: run against males. In Race 6 this Saturday, Mastery Kat faces five colts and geldings in an allowance, one-mile route on Tapeta. Although the winner of this race may run next in the February 11 $100,000 El Camino Real Derby, Mastery Kat is on a different schedule.

“This is the only race where the timing works out,” said Thomas. “We think we have a pretty nice filly here, and she’s ready to run.”

Thomas has thought highly of Mastery Kat since Day 1. In her first career start on October 1, Mastery Kat broke slowly, sat double digit lengths behind the leader before making an eye-catching move on the far turn. She rallied for second but was unable to catch race winner Imaginary. In her most recent start on November 5, Mastery Kat tried routing. She went to the lead, set a quick and contentious pace, and fended off all challengers to win the race by a hard-fought neck. Runner up finisher Tea N Conversation returned to break her maiden in a maiden special weight on turf at Del Mar.

“In her first start, I told [jockey] Billy [Antongeorgi III] she might break a little slow,” said Thomas. “She did, and she ran on really well. I’ve always thought she would route. In her next start I think she found herself on the lead coming out of a sprint. I wasn’t surprised she won because she showed us in the mornings that she had talent.”

Tactics may be different in Mastery Kat’s second lifetime route race on Saturday. Mastery Kat is 8-1 on the morning line and will be navigated by Armando Ayuso for the first time.

“There are a couple other speed horses [in the race on Saturday],” said Thomas. “I’m hoping we can lay off, sit in a good spot, and make a good run at ‘em.”

9-5 morning line favorite Happy Does would likely run in the El Camino Real Derby if he shows up with a good effort in Saturday’s sixth race. On November 5, Happy Does beat a first level allowance field. A California-bred, Happy Does is eligible to win at the condition once more. Since then, he ran fourth in the Golden Gate Nugget stakes and, in his most recent start, finished as the runner up behind stakes placed El Camino Real Derby contender Chase the Chaos. Regular rider Santos Rivera is reunited with the son of Southern Image for trainer Felix Rondan.

Travel The Map easily beat maiden special weight rivals on debut by over 5 lengths. In his first start against winners on December 30, the son of Liam’s Map was out finished for second by Happy Does and rounded out the trifecta. Both career races came routing.

Mother’s Prayer and Nauvoo were convincing winners the last time race fans saw them in the afternoon. The former has won two starter allowance races in a row while the latter wheels back quickly for new trainer Jonathan Wong after being claimed by the Wong outfit for $12,500 just last week. Sea Dog was well beaten in the Gold Rush Stakes and freshens up a month and a half for his return to the races. The son of Midshipman broke his maiden in a two-turn maiden special weight on dirt at Fresno.

On Saturday, race fans are offered 9 races to watch and wager on. First post is 12:45 PM.

Race 6 on Saturday (First level allowance for 3-year-olds at one mile)

#1 Nauvoo (Jockey Alexander Chavez…Trainer Jonathan Wong…Morning line odds of 5-2)

#2 Mother’s Prayer (Assael Espinoza…Steve Specht…7-2)

#3 Travel the Map (Kevin Radke…Tim McCanna…5-1)

#4 Mastery Kat (Armando Ayuso…Jamey Thomas…8-1)

#5 Sea Dog (Francisco Monroy…O.J. Jauregui…10-1)

#6 Happy Does (Santos Rivera…Felix Rondan…9-5)

More News from Golden Gate

In the jockey standings, Assael Espinoza leads the way with 15 wins, four more than veteran Frank Alvarado, who in turn is 1 win ahead of Santos Rivera for second…In the trainer standings, Jonathan Wong is at the top of the list with 9 wins. Tim McCanna holds a clear-cut second with 6 victories while five trainers (Manny Badilla, Reid France, Andy Mathis, Steve Specht, Jack Steiner) are all tied for third with 4 wins apiece…3-year-old filly Delusively broke her maiden in fine style on Friday for trainer Jose Bautista. The daughter of 2017 Breeders Cup Juvenile winner Good Magic is a half sibling to Grade 2 winner and Grade 1 placed router Chocolate Martini…Jose’s cousin, Jorge Bautista, saddled his first winner when Good Focus scored an upset triumph in a maiden claimer on January 8. Jorge, who previously worked under the late Duane Offield, is 1 for 8 this year with 2 third place finishes…The Ed Moger Jr. trained Stilleto Boy breezed five furlongs over the GGF Tapeta on January 15 in preparation for the $3,000,000 Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on January 28. Coming off a second-place finish behind 2022 Dubai World Cup winner Country Grammer last month, Stilleto Boy makes his second start off a layoff and will be reunited with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith in the Pegasus…The feature on a 9-race program this Sunday is a first level allowance for filly and mare sprinters. Among the main contenders are the Mr. and Mrs. Larry Williams homebred pair of Always Seeking and Lady’s Sermon, and synthetic specialist O’Neill’s Legacy. First post on Sunday is 12:45 PM.

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 19-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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