Masen backs up heavy favoritism in $100K Seek Again

May 22, 2022

ELMONT, N.Y. – One day after securing an elusive triumph with Early Voting in the Grade 1 Preakness at Pimlico Race Course, the weekend prosperity continued for trainer Chad Brown, who saddled Juddmonte’s Masen to his first stateside stakes score in Sunday’s $100,000 Seek Again for 4-year-olds and upward going one mile over Belmont Park’s Widener turf course.

“It was a great weekend and I’m so proud of my team and this group of horses,” Brown said. “Masen is a really exciting horse moving forward. It’s been a terrific weekend and my team deserves all the credit getting these horses ready.”

Scratched down to a field of three, the Seek Again was Masen’s first start since his North American debut, where he was a hard fought second beaten a nose by Shirl’s Speight in the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile on April 15 at Keeneland Race Course. The 4-year-old Kingman gelding didn’t need to work quite as hard this time around, strolling in hand past the wire a five-length winner.

Masen broke sharp under Manny Franco, who took his horse back two lengths from the front as pacesetter Wolfie’s Dynaghost laid down an opening quarter-mile in 23.64 seconds over the turf course rated good. Duke of Hazzard was another length back in third.

Positions remained intact through a half-mile in 47.40, with Masen under a strong hold from Franco. But Masen was let loose by the three-quarter call, taking the lead by a length. By upper stretch, Franco was just the passenger as Masen was all alone on the front end. He covered the mile in a final time of 1:34.94 with Duke of Hazzard securing second. It was a long way back to Wolfie’s Dynaghost who finished third.

Field Pass and Mandate were scratched.

Franco said he piloted Masen like the best horse in the race.

“I just tried to give the best ride I could and keep him out of trouble,” Franco said. “In the beginning, he was pulling me because he was in the clear, so I was trying to put him behind the horse on the lead. I just engaged the horse on the lead and my horse did the rest. He was ready for the race. I never asked him at all, and he just was eased at the eighth pole.”

Franco previously guided two turf stakes winners for Brown at the end of the Aqueduct spring meet when riding Unanimous Consent to victory in the Woodhaven and Consumer Spending to a win in the Memories of Silver.

“Man, I am just grateful to be in this spot right now and gain the trust of him and his owners. I just want to make the most of the opportunities,” Franco said.

Brown said that he used the Seek Again as both a confidence booster and a springboard back to graded stakes later this summer.

“It was a tough loss last time when he got beat by a really good horse over in the Maker’s Mark Mile. It was his first time racing in the country, and he got nailed,” Brown said. “I wanted to give him a confidence booster and it worked out perfect. Manny filled in for Flavien [Prat] and did a fabulous job first time sitting on that horse to get him to settle. He did everything I wanted him to do and it’s time to move forward now and run in a higher-level race again.”

Brown indicated that the Grade 3, $250,000 Poker on June 18 at Belmont could be in play for his next start, with the Grade 1, $500,000 Fourstardave on August 13 at Saratoga Race Course as a long term goal.

Brown gave credit to Masen’s former trainer Ger Lyons, who conditioned the horse to three victories in Ireland.

“He came into my barn in outstanding shape,” Brown said. “I want to point out that Juddmonte and former trainer Ger Lyons had the horse and did a good job of developing him and sending him over very sound and in terrific shape. I’m very appreciative and they took very good care of him.”

Returning $2.50 as the overwhelming favorite, Masen picked up his fourth career victory and first since capturing the Knockaire in October at Leopardstown. His record now stands at a consistent 8-4-2-1 with $288,798 in earnings.

Hailing from prestigious Juddmonte bloodlines, Masen is out of the Smart Strike mare Continental Drift, whose dam Intercontinental was a multiple Grade 1-winning turf champion for the late Bobby Frankel. In addition to Intercontinental, Masen’s third dam Hasili produced four other Grade/Group 1 winners for Juddmonte.

The Seek Again honors the Juddmonte Grade 1 winner who won his first North American start in the 2013 Hollywood Derby for Hall of Famer Bill Mott. The consistent son of Speightstown, out of Grade 1-winner Light Jig, also captured the 2014 Fourstardave [then run as a Grade 2] and retired with a record of 18-5-3-4 and earnings of $942,926.

Live racing resumes Friday with a nine-race card. First post is 1 p.m. Eastern.

America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the spring/summer meet at Belmont Park on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/belmont/racing/tv-schedule.

NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Belmont Park, and the best way to bet every race of the spring/summer meet. Available to horse players nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.

Seek Again Quotes

Chad Brown, winning trainer of Masen (No. 4, $2.50*): “I know it came down to a three-horse field, but I was really happy to see him get a ‘W’ under his belt. It was a tough loss last time when he got beat by a really good horse [Shirl’s Speight] over in the Maker’s Mark Mile. It was his first time racing in the country and he got nailed. I wanted to give him a confidence booster and it worked out perfect. Manny [Franco] filled in for Flavien [Prat] and did a fabulous job first time sitting on that horse to get him to settle. He did everything I wanted him to do and it’s time to move forward now and run in a higher-level race again.

“He came into my barn in outstanding shape and I want to point out that Juddmonte and former trainer Ger Lyons had the horse and did a good job of developing him and sending him over very sound and in terrific shape. I’m very appreciative and they took very good care of him.” 

On a potential start in the Grade 3, $250,000 Poker on June 18 at Belmont: “We’re going to look at the Poker in four weeks. The [Grade 1, $500,000] Fourstardave [on August 18] at Saratoga is really our next big Grade 1 try after that near miss in the Maker’s Mark.”

On building upon a win in the Grade 1 Preakness with Early Voting on Saturday: “It was a great weekend and I’m so proud of my team and this group of horses. Masen is a really exciting horse moving forward. It’s been a terrific weekend and my team deserves all the credit getting these horses ready.” 

Manny Franco, winning jockey aboard Masen (No. 4): “I was on the best horse in the race, so I just tried to give the best ride I could and keep him out of trouble. In the beginning, he was pulling me because he was in the clear, so I was trying to put him behind the horse on the lead [No. 3, Wolfie’s Dynaghost]. I just engaged the horse on the lead and my horse did the rest. He was ready for the race. I never asked him at all and he just was eased at the eighth pole.” 

On riding for Chad Brown: “Man, I am just grateful to be in this spot right now and gain the trust of him and his owners. I just want to make the most of the opportunities.” 

Winning margin: five lengths 
Final time (one mile, Widener turf): 1:34.94
Fractions: 23.64, 47.40, 1:11.43
Full order of finish: 4-2-3

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