ARCADIA, Calif. (March 9, 2013)—Hear the Ghost was a horse few people saw or heard coming until Saturday at Santa Anita. Six lengths behind well fancied favorites Flashback and Goldencents at the quarter pole, Hear the Ghost suddenly appeared larger than life as he unleashed a furious stretch rally under veteran Corey Nakatani to take the Grade II, $300,000 San Felipe Stakes going away by a half length over Flashback and Julien Leparoux, covering 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.34, thus stamping himself as a leading candidate for the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on April 6.
In a race that set up for a closer, 22-1 longshot Salutos Amigos went to the front into the Club House turn, 1 ½ lengths clear of even money favorite Flashback, who was just a head clear of 2-1 second choice Goldencents, who was ridden by Kevin Krigger.
As the field headed down the backstretch, Goldencents and Flashback blew by Salutos Amigos and raced as a team to mid-stretch, with Goldencents tiring at the rail and Flashback faced with the daunting task of holding off a pair of closers—Hear the Ghost and Tiz a Minister, who rallied from last in the field of eight under Garrett Gomez.
With fractions of 22.97, 45.95, 1:09.94 and 1:35.70 to run at, the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained Hear the Ghost, who was trying two turns in only his third career start, won going away in a manner that suggests he may be capable of getting longer distances such as the mile and one eighth Santa Anita Derby and the mile and a quarter Kentucky Derby on May 4.
“I got a lot of enjoyment out of buying this horse and racing him with my partner, Ted Aroney (who races as Halo Farms). We’ll find out about longer distances. That’s where we have to go next. I think we’ll stay home for the Santa Anita Derby.
“I just told Corey to watch the pace and try to be tactical and not get caught down inside…I have a great deal of confidence in this guy. He’s won some very big races for me along the way, so he can ride anything of mine.
“I thought this horse would have a very good chance to run them down today…I thought they would put up a pretty good pace.”
Purchased for $40,000 at the 2011 Keenland September yearling sale, Hear the Ghost is owned by Hollendorfer and Aroney’s Halo Farms. Off at 5-1, the Kentucky-bred gelding by Ghostzapper paid $13.80, $4.60 and $3.60.
With the winner’s share of $180,000, Hear the Ghost hiked his bankroll to $224,400 and he now has two wins and a second from three starts.