A Huge Derby Weekend for Ghostzapper

05.06.2018 -

Kentucky Derby weekend is annually one of the biggest on the North American racing calendar and Ghostzapper was prominent in the pedigrees of several important winners this year.

Stronach Stable's homebred Ghostzapper filly Holy Helena was one of his two graded winners on the weekend, winning the Sheepshead Bay Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park. The win was the third in a row and sixth from nine career starts for Holy Helena, who beat colts in the 2017 Queen's Plate en route to a Sovereign Award as Canada's Champion 3YO Filly. She kicked off her 2018 campaign with a powerful victory in her turf debut at Gulfstream Park followed by a win in that track's The Very One Stakes (G3) on March 3. She's now earned $1,009,333 and is Ghostzapper's 8th millionaire.

Watch the Sheepshead Bay Stakes

Trained by Jimmy Jerkens and bred by Adena Springs in Ontario, Holy Helena was produced from the Holy Bull mare, Holy Grace. 

“It's always very tricky when all the horses have the same style,” Jerkens said of the slow-paced event. “I couldn't tell who was going to be on the lead or anything. I guess the pace was slow and they were very fresh up ahead of her and she had to sprint down the lane to win it. She bobbled a little bit too right in mid-stretch there. She was running so fast, it was kind of like the ground kind of gave out under her."

Earlier in the day at Churchill Downs another Ghostzapper distaff turf star, Proctor's Ledge, rose to the occasion in the Churchill Turf Distaff Mile Stakes (G2) in front of a large throng assembled for the 144th Kentucky Derby.
"I had a perfect trip," said Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez. "We broke pretty well and got into the position I wanted to be in. I didn't want to be too far back. She settled well, and after that I bided my time to get a nice run down the lane. When the time came, I pulled her out and she responded right away."

Proctor's Ledge boosted her earnings to $579,090, with a 5-2-1 record from 12 starts. The 4-year-old was bred in Kentucky by her owner Patricia Mosely out of the stakes-placed Arch mare Archstone. She landed her third graded stakes score in the Turf Distaff Mile. In 2017 the handsome bay won the Lake George Stakes (G3) and Lake Placid Stakes (G2) consecutively at Saratoga Race Course and will eye the Diana Stakes (G1) there as a major target this summer.

"There's a mile race on Belmont Day (and) there's a mile and a quarter race on Belmont Day," trainer Brendan Walsh said of future starts. "The Diana at Saratoga, you would think, would be her main target, seeing that she has such an affinity for Saratoga. We'll be careful with her because I think she'll get better and better as she goes along. I think her best races are still in front of her."

The main event on May 5 was, of course, the 144th Kentucky Derby and the unbeaten winner Justify was produced by the Ghostzapper daughter Stage Magic. 

"He just put himself up there with the greats," exclaimed Justify's trainer Bob Baffert, who knows a thing or two about all-timers, having had 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and champion Arrogate, racing's all-time richest racehorse, emerge from his barn. "We knew he was capable. He showed me that—we were talking about it—but I didn't want to say it. I knew I had something really special, but he had to prove it today."

Bred in Kentucky by John Gunther, Justify is by the late Scat Daddy and is the third foal out of Stage Magic. Her first foal, the Street Sense son The Lieutenant has placed in pair of Stakes on the Southern California circuit including the April 28 Californian Stakes (G2). Stage Magic is one of 17 blacktype horses from Ghostzapper's first crop foaled in 2007.

Collectively the daughters of Ghostzapper have gotten off to a tremendous start as producers. From their first 150 starters they've produced 104 winners (69%) and 13 Stakes winners (12.5%). Among their other Stakes winners are Eclipse Champion Sprinter Drefong and American Gal, who also put her talents on display on the Kentucky Derby undercard. 

Winner of last summer's Test Stakes (G1), she added another Grade 1 to her resume in the Humana Distaff (G1). Bred by her owner Kaleem Shah, American Gal (by the Tapit son Concord Point) has now won five of her eight starts and earned over $900,000.

Ghostzapper was also represented by impressive debut winner and 'TDN Rising Star' Bugle Notes on the May 4 Kentucky Oaks card and McCraken, who scored in his 2018 debut on Derby Day. McCraken has captured a trio of Graded Stakes and was a nose short of winning last year's Haskell Invitational (G1). It's likely trainer Ian Wilkes used the Derby Day allowance as a stepping stone to the June 16 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1).

-edited from www.paulickreport.com & www.bloodhorse.com

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