With Mike Smith in the saddle for trainer John Shirreffs, Jerry and Ann Moss’s Neko Bay returned from a 10-month layoff to find an opening near the rail and run down 17-10 favorite Mast Track by one length in Friday’s one-mile allowance event while covering the distance in 1:35.78.
It was an impressive showing for Neko Bay, a homebred son of Giant’s Causeway, who has dealt with infirmaries during a nevertheless ultra consistent career on the racetrack where he has finished first or second in 9 of his 10 starts.
“He hadn’t run in 10 months and we had the outside post, so I knew he was going to be a little keen early,” Hall of Fame jockey Smith said in the winner’s circle. “So I got him covered up right away and I tried to get him to relax. I didn’t want to make an early run and get caught four-wide and have him flatten-out, so I wanted to stay down in the pocket and punch through when it counted.”
The mutuel count on Neko Bay across the board was $12.20, $4.60 and $3.60. Mast Track paid $3.20 and $2.80 while Becrux returned $6 to show.
The Pick Six carryover was announced immediately following the Sunday Silence and followed victories in the Pick Six sequence by Anundeniablyhappy in the third race at $22.40; Sindyfromsantacruz in the fourth at $11; My Maloof Rocker in the fifth at $6.20, and Misty Aly in the sixth at $14.40.
Neko Bay’s victory was worth $32,400 to the Mosses and brought the Kentucky-bred’s career earnings to $221,020 from an overall record of 4-5-0 in 10 starts.
With a 10-race card on Saturday, the Pick Six sequence will begin with the fifth race and will include the Grade II, $150,000 Oak Tree Mile as the sixth with Cowboy Cal the 2-1 morning line favorite; Kentucky Derby champion Mine That Bird among 10 entrants in the Grade I, $350,000 Goodwood Stakes going as the seventh; mighty Zenyatta at 2-5 in the eighth-race Lady’s Secret. The other major stakes on the program is the earlier fourth race with Magical Fantasy as the 8-5 choice in the Grade I, $300,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes. First post is at 12:30 p.m.