Netas Proves He’s the Man

By Jessica Martini

Robert Masterson admitted he’d had some trouble when it came to naming his 2-year-old Netas (Congrats), who graduated with a gritty performance at Churchill Downs Sunday.

“It’s pronounced “Need-us,” Masterson said. “It’s a Cahuilla Indian name meaning man. Where I live, all the streets are named after Cahuilla Indians and that is a street I used to live on.”

But, that’s not the first definition you get if you try to Google Netas.

“It’s also a gang in Puerto Rico and I had trouble with The Jockey Club until I showed them the certification from the Cahuilla Indians that the word actually means man,” Masterson laughed. “So get the right word out–I didn’t name him after a Puerto Rican street gang.”

Netas proved worthy of the name as he gamely snuck up a narrow opening along the rail Sunday.

“He actually ran really impressively considering the other jockey hit him on top of his head with his stick,” Masterson said. “He bounced off the rail, too. So not only was he good, he was tough. He looks like he has a lot of ability.”

Sunday’s maiden affair was Netas’s third start, but his first effort over the main track. He narrowly loss to Saturday’s Armed Forces S. winner Renaisance Frolic (Paynter) in his Aug. 12 debut over the Gulfstream lawn and was never a factor when eighth over the Kentucky Downs turf last time out Sept. 7.

“The last race down at Kentucky Downs, he just didn’t get a hold of that grass at all. It was just a mess,” Masterson said. “And in his first race, he almost went over the rail. He came out of the one hole and he almost went over the rail. He was six lengths behind and then he still almost won the race.”

Masterson continued, “I think he can run on turf or dirt. I think he had two bad trips on the grass. He had a bad trip today, too, but he just overcame it. He looks like he might be a little better on the dirt. If you look at the works that he’s had he was 2/50 and 5/73–pretty impressive works that he had on the dirt at Churchill before we ran him there.”

Masterson purchased Netas’s second dam One Hot Minute (Relaunch) for $55,000 at the 1995 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. The colt’s dam Sheets (Scatmandu) won the 2007 GIII Azalea Breeders’ Cup S. in Masterson’s colors. But the mare’s breeding career has been star-struck.

“That mare was pretty special to me for a lot of reasons,” Masterson said of Sheets. “That’s why I kept trying to breed her. And she had all kinds of breeding problems and I finally got this colt out of her to get to the track. I had a couple of very good horses out of her, but they both got in trouble health-wise prior to getting them to the track.”

Netas could be Masterson’s final homebred.

“This is the last one I’m being in the breeding business with,” he said. “This is my last one. I don’t want to breed any more horses. I’m going to run them and sell them–I just enjoy running them.”

Masterson almost parted ways with Netas at last year’s Keeneland September sale, when his bloodstock agent Deuce Greathouse signed the ticket to buy the colt back for $85,000.

“We were looking at him in the sales ring and we were saying, ‘We can’t go buy a horse for what we are trying to sell this horse for, so we might as well keep him and see if he can run,’” Masterson explained. “And he’s actually turned out to be a beautiful horse. He’s really grown up nicely and turned into a beautiful horse.”

While Masterson will part ways with super-mare Tepin (Bernstein) at the upcoming Fasig-Tipton November sale, his racing stable–which currently includes six horses in training and four yearlings–continues to tick along successfully. He was represented at the summer’s Saratoga meeting by 2-year-old filly Wild N Ready (More Than Ready), runner-up in the P.G. Johnson S. and he also campaigns ‘TDN Rising Star’ Tamit (Ire) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}).

“I have some really good horses–that 2-year-old filly I ran at Saratoga should have won the stakes,” Masterson said. “She finished second and she ran 60 feet further than the winner. She just had a horrible trip. And then I have a really nice 3-year-old filly Tamit, who is going to run opening-day at Keeneland.”

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