Master of The Seas Returns in Maker's Mark

Master of The Seas | Benoit

Keeneland kicks off the second weekend of the Spring Meet with the much-heralded return Friday of last year's GI Breeders' Cup Mile winner in the 36th running of the $600,000 GI Maker's Mark Mile S. Master of The Seas (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}), unseen in the starting gate since his nose win over Mawj (Ire) (Exceed And Excel {Aus}) in the Mile last November, was most recently spotted with trainer Charlie Appleby's string in Dubai before shipping stateside to Keeneland. Now six, the Godolphin homebred has been here before, notching a second over this course last October in the GI Coolmore Turf Mile S. to eventual champion Up to the Mark (Not This Time). Although the gelding hasn't started in five months and rain was plentiful at Keeneland Thursday which may downgrade the turf, Appleby is confident Master of The Seas, who also won the GI Ricoh Woodbine Mile S. last fall, will show his best.

“He is a worthy favorite,” said Appleby. “He broke his maiden on soft ground, and he's won a Group 2 on soft.”

Apply also brings Godolphin's Naval Power (GB) (Teofilo {Ire}), winner of six of seven lifetime, including his last two going a furlong further at Meydan. There were 13 months and a castration between those two wins, but his G2 Singspiel S. victory Feb. 23 earned him a ticket to the U.S. for a barn that has excelled in graded events in America.

“He has won on soft ground, and this will give him a chance to gain experience over here,” said Appleby.

The 2022 Maker's Mark Mile victor, Charles Fipke's 'TDN Rising Star' Shirl's Speight (Speightstown), has not found the winner's circle since that signature win. He's faced Master of the Seas in two of his last three, getting closest with a runner-up finish in the Woodbine Mile. He clearly has an affinity for Keeneland, with a second in the 2022 edition of the Breeders' Cup Mile to another Appleby trainee in Modern Games (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}).

“Hard to believe, but [Shirl's Speight] has been running in all of the big ones with a couple of seconds,” said trainer Roger Attfield. “He's been doing well since his last race, which was the [Jan. 27 GI] Pegasus [World Cup Turf Invitational].”

The Maker's Mark field is rounded out by uber-impressive two-back GII Hill Prince S. winner Integration (Quality Road); 'TDN Rising Star' and Mar. 2 GIII Canadian Turf S. winner Emmanuel (More Than Ready); and a Chad Brown-trained pair of recent Tampa allowance winners in Kubrick (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) and Equitize (GB) (Kingman {GB}).

Du Jour (Temple City), winner of the GI Frank E. Kilroe Mile S. Mar. 3, reportedly didn't make the trip from Santa Anita and will be scratched.

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