Runaway Ghost Returns With Impressive Score in Ft. Bliss Stakes

02.02.2019 -

As Runaway Ghost crossed the wire first in the $75,000 Ft. Bliss Stakes at Sunland Park, trainer Todd Fincher was hit with a variety of emotions.

He was happy and he was proud, but mostly he was relieved.

In his first start since his win in the 2018 Sunland Derby (G3), Joe Peacock's homebred Ghostzapper colt - who missed the Triple Crown series and the rest of the season because of a training injury before the Kentucky Derby (G1) - made his move on loose early leader Secular Nation in the turn of the six-furlong test, found his best stride in the lane, and kicked away late to win by 2 1/2 lengths.

Watch the Ft. Bliss Stakes

The Ft. Bliss was the third stakes win and fifth victory overall for Runaway Ghost. The Kentucky-bred out of the Desert God mare Rose's Desert now has $608,510 in earnings.

"The relief factor was unbelievable," Fincher said of Runaway Ghost, who sustained a cannon bone fracture during a workout in April and returned to training in September. "I was happy to see his return be great. It wasn't just OK. It was great."

Secular Nation sprinted out to a 3 1/2-length lead through a first quarter in :21.88 while Runaway Ghost tracked in third, 4 1/2 lengths back under jockey Santiago Gonzalez. Runaway Ghost advanced to second, cut the margin to 1 1/2 lengths, and had dead aim on the leader through a half-mile in :44.33. He finished the distance in 1:08.44 on a fast track.

"Everything went perfectly," Fincher said. "One horse went out there and we were four, five lengths off. His turn of foot was perfect, his speed was perfect, and the time was perfect."

Secular Nation held second, 5 3/4 lengths clear of Cowboy Cool in third. Coils Gold, Valentine Divine, Wake Up in Malibu, and Black Ops completed the order of finish.

"The only thing that concerned me was if (Secular Nation) was that good," Fincher said. "I wasn't worried about my horse finishing, but that horse just could have been super good."

Fincher said there are no solid plans for the colt's next race.

- edited from, Coady photo

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