Ghostzapper's Zestful Cleans Up In Los Al Special


A stretch to 1 ¼ miles proved no problem for Zestful as he dominated four opponents in the $100,000 Los Alamitos Special Sunday.

A 4-year-old Ghostzapper gelding changed hands at last year's Fasig-Tipton Horses of Racing Age auction. He's now won his sixth race in a row and for the seventh time in 10 appearances in 2019.

“He's so cool,'' said Talamo, who also won the inaugural Los Alamitos Special with the Bob Baffert-trained Dabster a year ago. “He'll do whatever you want. I kept him two or three paths off the rail and gave him a breather on the far turn. He just took off at the quarter pole.''

The victory was the second for the Zestful in the colors of the partnership that includes Danny Haramoto, Sheldon Kawahara, Steven Sobel and Mark Glatt.

The chestnut is Ghostzapper's third stakes winner out of a mare by Smoke Glacken from just 13 starters. Stronach Stables homebred champion Hunters Bay is among the others.

Able to make the early lead, Zestful surrendered the advantage when 11-1 shot Soul Beam made an inside move to take over, but, after being given a breather by jockey Joe Talamo, the 3-2 second choice Sunday kicked away in the stretch to score by six lengths.
The win was the ninth in 24 lifetime starts for Zestful and the $60,000 payday pushed his bankroll to $209,941.

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Ghostzapper's Lift Up Earns 2nd Straight Stakes Trophy


Lift Up, finishing strongly under rider Patrick Husbands, was along in time to score by a neck over She’s the Berries as the 9-5 favorite in Sunday’s $100,000 Belle Mahone Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack.

Maryland-based trainer Michael Dickinson was on hand to send out Lift Up for the Belle Mahone, a 1 1/16 mile race for fillies and mares on the Tapeta which attracted a field of six.

Lift Up, a five-year-old Augustin Stable homebred by Ghostzapper, was recording her third career stakes win after taking the Miss Liberty over 1 1/16 miles of grass at Monmouth last June and the mile and 70 yard West Virginia President’s Cup on the Mountaineer Park turf course last time out.

“We think she’s going to be better going longer,” said Dickinson, who was sending out his second stakes winner of the meeting after watching Pamina win the Ontario Matron in July. “Now that we’ve got her to relax, she’ll go as long as we want. She’s bred to go a mile and a half.”

“I got a nice trip,” said Patrick Husbands, who was recording his meet-leading 12th stakes win and his third career score in the Belle Mahone following successes with Stars to Shine in 2011 and Uchenna in 2016.

“She was so relaxed, throughout the whole backside, and that was the key riding her today. Michael says she’s very aggressive. I galloped her yesterday morning, and she was pretty aggressive.”

Lift Up, breaking from the inside post, was eased back and moved off the rail heading down the backstretch as Lunar Garden led through opening fractions of :24.24 and :49.45.

Ladies Night was chasing in second as the others bunched up heading into the far turn, and the early leaders remained in place as the six furlongs went by in 1:13.51.

Lift Up was moving on the far outside at that point and looked a major danger. She’s the Berries, meanwhile, had saved ground throughout and was hitting her stride on the inside as they turned for home.

The outcome was in doubt until the final yards but Lift Up was good enough for the fractional victory over the 2-1 second choice in a final time of 1:43.57.

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Ghostzapper's 2YO Nucky Scores in Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity


In an eventful renewal of the Grade 1 Runhappy $300,000 Del Mar Futurity Monday at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club Nucky scored by 2 3/4 lengths.

Nucky, with Norberto Arroyo, Jr., went to the lead in the upper stretch and steadily increased his margin to record a clear triumph. Wrecking Crew was second, a half-length in front of Defense Wins, with Ginobili fourth in the field of eight two-year-olds.

Richard Baltas, trainer of fourth-place Ginobili, lodged an objection against the winner, alleging interference in upper stretch. However, the Del Mar stewards, after viewing videotape, disallowed the claim.

Nucky, a son of Ghostzapper owned by the Rockingham Ranch of Gary Hartunian of Sherman Oaks, Ca., and trained by Peter Miller, was timed returned $72, $26 and $13.40 after his second win in five starts. First money of $180,000 increased his earnings to $217,750.

Bred in Kentucky by Barry and Judith Becker, Nucky is the first foal out of the Rock Hard Ten mare Lady Ten. He wasconsigned by Havens Bloodstock Agency to the 2018 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

He is the 12th Grade 1 winner for his sire who is in the midst of another stellar season with 9 blacktype winners and 21 blacktype horses. Among the others is the unbeaten dual Grade 1 winner Guarana, the leading 3-year-old filly in North America. 

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Giant Gizmo's Cooler Mike Leads Parade of Adena Springs North SWs on Canadian Millions Card


Adena Springs North stallions were represented by a trio of stakes winners and three additional stakes-placed runners on the 2019 Canadian Millions program at Woodbine Racecourse. 

Cooler Mike and jockey Luis Contreras kicked off the stakes action with a 2-1/4-length victory over 1-1/2 miles on the grass in the Halton Stakes for three-year-olds and up.

Cooler Mike took the lead heading down the backstretch and shook clear of stalkers Eskiminzin and Ethical Funds with a half-mile to go. He completed the route in 2:27.77 over firm turf.

The four-year-old Giant Gizmo-Executive Affair gelding, who was a runner-up in the Simcoe Stake as a juvenile and hit the board in both the Queen’s Plate and Prince of Wales Stakes, broke through for his first stakes win.

Cooler Mike was cross-entered in the Elgin Stakes, but his connections ultimately opted for the E.P. Taylor Turf test tonight and that decision proved to be a winning one.

“We changed our mind about 50 times in the last week,” said trainer Nick Nosowenko, who co-owns and bred the chestnut gelding with his father Mike. “It really came down to if we got rain last night. It’s been so hard and I wasn’t going to run him if it was very hard like it’s been all week so I think we got lucky and he ran a huge race. He loved it out there.”

Sent postward as the 2-1 second choice, Cooler Mike paid $6.70 to his backers. Progeny of his barnmates at Adena Springs North filled out the trifecta with Sligo Bay's Full Extreme finishing second ahead of the Milwaukee Brew gelding Prideofdistinction.

A few races later, Piano Bar Racing’s Red Cabernet followed up her Eternal Search Stakes victory two weeks ago with another winning performance in the Algoma for fillies and mares over 1-1/16 miles on the Tapeta.

Jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson was able to get Red Cabernet into a nice rhythm stalking pacesetter Crumlin Queen through comfortable early fractions before winning a four-way stretch duel into steady wind. Joined on the outside by Bear Paw and a drifting Alice’s War, Red Cabernet forged 1-1/4 lengths ahead as the wire approached to win in 1:45.45 for trainer Ian Black.

“I think she a good horse. She’s versatile, she does the best every time she comes out to play,” said Wilson. “My biggest concern was what the pace structure was going to be like early. I was hoping to have a little more in front of me to cover her up, but she stalked the pace happy, you know, outside of cover, and she was confident and gained the whole way down the lane.”

Bred by Paul Buttigieg, the five-year-old Signature Red-Gold Leaf Rose mare now has seven wins from 24 starts.


Defending champion Kingsport earned his 11th stakes victory winning a three-horse tussle in the Elgin Stakes under Patrick Husbands for trainer Sid Attard and owners Goldmart Farms and Royal Laser Racing Inc.

Thor’s Rocket led briefly out of the gate before Aheadbyacentury took control with Kingsport stalking closely in third throughout the 1-1/16-mile contest on the Tapeta. The tight trio then duked it out down the lane with Kingsport ultimately coming out on top by a head in a final time of 1:44.18. Thor’s Rocket bested Aheadbyacentury by three-quarters of a length.

Kingsport paid $3.40 to win as the race favourite.

Kingsport is two-for-two this year having also won the Steady Growth Stakes in mid-June. Lifetime, the seven-year-old Milwaukee Brew-Green Jewel gelding has compiled a record reading 13-7-3 from 33 starts with the lion’s share of the purse pushing his bankroll just over the million-dollar mark in Canadian earnings. He was bred by Richard Moylan.


A Record-Setting 'Play' by Stronach Stables Silent Name Son Silent Poet


Stronach Stables’ homebred Silent Poet turned in a track record performance under jockey Gary Boulanger, winning the $175,000 Play The King Stakes (Grade 2) on Saturday at Woodbine Racetrack.

Trained by Nicholas Gonzalez, the four-year-old Silent Name gelding out of the Ghostzapper daughter Cara Bella, set a new E.P. Taylor Turf Course record of 1:19.22 for seven furlongs. Soaring Free’s former record of 1:19.38 stood for 15 years.

With the impressive victory in the prep for the Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile, Silent Poet stamped his ticket to next month’s million-dollar affair set for September 14.

Silent Poet tracked the leaders Sable Island and Carmenootz (also by Silent Name) along the rail through a quarter in :22.65 and half-mile in :44.11. He then slipped through between those rivals off the turn and kicked nearly two lengths clear down the stretch for the record-setting victory.

“We thought that Emma’s horse (Sable Island) and Carmenootz would definitely be up there and I thought I’d just be tracking and it came out exactly like that,” said Boulanger of his racing strategy. “I had a little seam about the 3/16th pole and he shot right through there and he played all the way down the lane. There’s another gear there, unbelievably.”

Silent Poet has been a model of consistency with six wins from 11 career starts including the 2018 Vice Regent Stakes over one mile of turf. He’s banked more than $370,000 lifetime and has missed the board on just one occasion when competing in last year’s Queen’s Plate.

Stepping up for his first graded stakes win, Silent Poet has shown his connections considerable progress since his sophomore campaign and seemingly has much more to offer.

“He showed a lot of try last year. This year, he’s so focused on his job,” said Boulanger. “He’s just been a lot of fun to be around. Nick’s done a tremendous job with him, I’m just grateful I get to ride him.”

“To me, there’s lots of room for improvement,” said Gonzalez, who was impressed by his trainee’s last race as a three-year-old when he ran second to Kingsport in the Sir Barton Stakes going long. “They do such a great job over there in the Stronach barns. He was in Ocala over the winter, got gelded and came back a happy gelding.”

Silent Poet entered the Play The King following a victory in his July 21 season’s debut over 6-1/2 furlongs on the turf.

“That first win was just a tune up and it just proved to us that he was going to another elevation and you heard the way Gary talked about him. He’s just a special horse and we’re just so lucky to have him.”

Silent Poet is the 6th Northern Hemisphere Graded stakes winner by Silent Name, by far the most among active stallions in Canada. He is also the sire of a pair of Group winners in South America, including Group 1 hero Jaspion Silent (Brz).

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Mucho Macho Man's 2YO City Man Remains Unbeaten With Funny Cide S. Romp


Favored off of a sterling debut victory on July 18 at Saratoga, City Man did not disappoint his backers in the $200,000 Funny Cide Stakes on the August 23 New York Bred Showcase over the same course.

The colt by Mucho Macho Man made his move right before the eighth pole to outkick pacesetter Bull of Bayern and draw away to a 4 ¾-length victory in the 6 ½-furlong race for 2-year-olds.

Bull of Bayern led the nine-horse field through the opening quarter-mile in 22.25 seconds and the half in 45.35 and still held the lead out of the turn before City Man, under jockey Joel Rosario, charged from the outside and surged in the stretch, hitting the wire in 1:16.93 in Race 8.

"He broke very well today; the first time he broke a little slow," said winning jockey Joel Rosario. "This race was a little
longer so I was very happy with him. He tried hard and it was great. In the stretch, he was very comfortable. I asked him to go,
and he went."

The Christophe Clement trainee, bred by Moonstar Farm, improved to 2-for-2 in his career and returned $6.50 for a $2 win bet.

“I was expecting him to be further off the pace,” said Clement, who trains the colt for Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, and Peter and Patty Searles. “Exact opposite, but he ran a very good race."

Reeves Thoroughbred Racing principals Dean and Patti Reeves raced Mucho Macho Man to many important victories, including the Breeders' Cup Classic. Mucho Macho Man is now the leader among 2nd crop sires by 2019 blacktype winners and wins.

Ghostzapper's Varenka Dramatic DH Winner of Saratoga's Lake Placid S. (G2)


Favored Varenka and second-choice Regal Glory hit the wire as one after a thrilling four-horse stretch drive to dead-heat for the win on Saturday in the 36th running of the Grade 2, $200,000 Lake Placid at Saratoga Race Course.

Both fillies settled off the pace as Blowout led the field of 3-year-old turf fillies through dawdling fractions of 26.36 and 51.10 seconds, with three-quarters going in 1:15.39 under darkening skies and over an inner turf course rated firm. Heading into the turn, jockey Luis Saez made the first move aboard Regal Glory, tipping the Animal Kingdom filly to the outside in the three path as Amandrea ranged up to challenge the pacesetter.

Following along, however, were Varenka and Javier Castellano, who went even wider to trigger a contentious stretch run among the four fillies, with Blowout grimly hanging on to the lead on the inside and Amandrea staying in the mix until the final yards, when the top two surged to the front with inches to spare in the photo finish.

Both fillies were walked in a circle outside the winner's circle for several minutes as rain began to fall while racing officials perused the photo before posting the "head heat" sign.

"You have to be lucky," said Castellano. "Those 'bobs' can go either way. It was a very exciting race and those two horses showed up and I rode to win. In the moment, I thought I had won the race but after watching the replay, I thought it could go either way."

The final time for the 1 1/16-mile race was 1:43.68.

It was the second straight victory and first in a stakes for Augustin Stable's Varenka, who won an optional claimer earlier in the meet. Overall, the daughter of Ghostzapper is now 3-2-2 from eight career starts, with her only off-the-board effort coming when fifth in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

The H. Graham Motion trainee returned $2.90 for a $2 win wager and earned $75,000, boosting her bankroll to $278,100.

"I'm speechless, to be honest," said Motion, who won the race in 2009 with Shared Account. "I had another one of these up here in the Amsterdam [with Secret Firm in 1998, who dead-heated with Mint] when I first started training. I just can't believe she got there because they went so slow. That was a crazy performance.

"I thought we had [it won] right before the wire and right after the wire, but I wasn't sure on the line. All credit to Javier [Castellano]. He said he was going to be patient with her, and he was patient."

The Lake Placid was the second graded stakes win for the Chad Brown-trained Regal Glory, who took the Grade 3 Lake George at the Spa on July 18. Owned by Paul Pompa, Jr., the filly has never been worse than second in seven career starts, with five victories including the Penn Oaks at Penn National earlier this year and the Stewart Manor last fall at Aqueduct Racetrack.

"Both horses finished great to run into a slow pace like that," said Brown, who won last year's Lake Placid with Rushing Fall. "I thought Luis [Saez] did a great job."

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Signature Red's Red Cabernet Best in Eternal Search Stakes


The theme of the evening played out to perfection in Wednesday’s on track feature as Piano Bar Racing’s Red Cabernet and jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson were fitting winners of the $100,000 Eternal Search Stakes on Ladies Night at Woodbine.

Fillies and mares competed on track throughout the entire eight-race program while wine-tastings, dining specials and giveaways were all part of the Ladies Night festivities at the Toronto oval.

Bred in Ontario by Paul Buttigieg, the five-year-old by Adena Springs North's Signature Red now has six wins from 23 career starts and $267,420 banked in purses for her ownership group of six friends who purchased her for a modest $35,000 at the 2015 Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society Yearling Sale.

“I mean she’s just been great,” said trainer Ian Black, noting this year’s Canadian Premier Yearling Sale is just two weeks away. “It just shows that a small group together can buy a nice horse.”

Wilson worked out a ground-saving trip aboard Red Cabernet in the 1-1/16-mile Ontario Sire Stakes event behind race leader Without a Doubt and the stalking Zestina through fractions of :23.77, :48.21 and 1:11.76 over the new inner turf course. Red Cabernet slipped out coming off the final turn to take the lead with a furlong to go then held off the outside closer She’s the Berries by a neck in 1:42.89. Piper’s Legacy, the 2-1 favourite, rallied between rivals to take third prize less than a length behind while Without a Doubt settled for fourth.

“She’s a heck of mare. You point her in the right direction and she goes,” said Wilson after the victory. “I remember breezing this filly down at Payson Park when she was two turning three and she’s just always been that type that you thought could win stakes and do well. That was the first time on the inner [turf course] for her and she had a little look around late and she kind of waited on them a little bit, but then they got to her and she realized, ‘oh, I’m in a horse race,’ and put her ears right back and went right back to business.”

A winner over the same distance on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course in last August’s Victoriana Stakes, Red Cabernet earned her first victory in four starts this year. She returned $11.30 to win as the 9-2 fourth wagering choice.

“She was in some tough spots and probably the wrong surface [earlier this year],” said Black. “This is the race I looked at all year. When I found it, I saw that they changed to the inside [turf course] and I wasn’t 100 per cent sure, but she proved me wrong.”

“At the end of the day, the credit really does go to the horse,” said co-owner Jim Menzies. “Ian has done a great job with her, Emma gave her a great ride and, as you saw in the last 100 yards there, it was almost like she decided, ‘ok, I’m going to win this one,’ and that’s what she went ahead and did. It was thrilling.”

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Stronach Stables Homebred Green Light Go Still Unbeaten After 'Special' Romp


T here was no stopping Stronach Stables Green Light Go on his way to winning the $200,000 Saratoga Special Stakes Presented by Miller Lite (G2) Aug. 10 at Saratoga Race Course. Under wraps by jockey Junior Alvarado, the Hard Spun  juvenile ran his short record to 2-for-2.

Trainer Jimmy Jerkens unveiled Green Light Go July 4 at Belmont Park. The bay colt led every step of the 5 1/2-furlong race and drew off by 3 1/4 lengths after dueling through the first half. That effort earned him to 3-2 favoritism Saturday at the Spa, when he came from fifth for a dominant 3 3/4-length victory.

"He ran well without having to be on the lead, and that was good to see," Jerkens said. "The track has been so speed-favoring initially. I told Junior to take him out of there and don't discourage him from running, but if someone really wants the lead, that it'd be fine. It turned out he didn't break quite as fast as his first start, but it worked out well."

Alvarado settled Green Light Go off the pace as Long Weekend led the first quarter-mile in :21.71 before Tuggle, by the Adena Springs stallion Point of Entry,  stuck his head in front through a :44.16 half-mile. Green Light Go was set down for the drive turning for home, and despite drifting in and brushing with a fading Tuggle, continued on strong to the wire. 

After running six furlongs in 1:09.07, Alvarado was able to ease his mount near the finish line before a final time of 1:15.68.

"We knew coming into the race it was going to be a test for him to see what he could handle," said Alvarado, who has been aboard for both starts. "I told Jimmy, 'Let's leave the gate running and if he takes the lead on his own, that's fine; and if not, I'm not going to rush him off his feet.' But I knew I had to get him out of there.

"I put him in the race and he handled everything very professionally. I was just a pilot on top of him. I knew how much horse I had the whole way, and I was very excited at the way he was handling the kickback, and just rating behind horses very kindly. We knew how good he was and I trusted him there.

"He's got a body like a 4-year-old and his mind is like an old horse's mind. He's very focused. There's nothing like a 2-year-old about him."

The performance has Jerkens considering a grade 1 spot next out for Green Light Go.

"He sat in the pocket just nice up against the bridle. He didn't care about taking dirt which was really nice to see," Jerkens said. "He leaned a little in the stretch; maybe a little green, but I guess he's still learning, too. He had good purposeful works between races and has handled it. He was also composed in the paddock, so we might really have a nice one here."

The conditioner said he would speak with owner Frank Stronach first, but said the Oct. 5 Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont "seems a little more appealing" than the Sept. 2 Runhappy Hopeful Stakes (G1) during the Saratoga meet.

The Champagne, a "Win and You're In" challenge race for the Nov. 2 TVG Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita Park, is run at a mile, an eighth longer than the Hopeful.

Bred in Kentucky by Stronach's Adena Springs, Green Light Go is out of the Virginia-bred mare Light Green. The Pleasantly Perfect daughter is a stakes winner at Belmont and was a close runner-up in the Prioress Stakes (G1) there. Light Green was bred to Shaman Ghost  for the 2020 foaling season.

Green Light Go has run without Lasix in both of his races, in which he's earned $154,000.

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