Triple Crown Contenders Powering Ghostzapper in 2017

02.16.2017 -

Ghostzapper, whose sons swept last weekend’s graded stakes for Kentucky Derby hopefuls, is off to a fantastic start to 2017.

The Adena Springs stallion ranks second on the general sire list by earnings for 2017 and leads all active sires in that category, fueled by Shaman Ghost’s runner-up effort in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup to champion Arrogate, by the late Unbridled’s Song.

Shaman Ghost earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 112 for that effort – the top number of Ghostzapper’s stud career and the second-highest of 2017, behind only Arrogate’s 119. The Pegasus is the brainchild of Frank Stronach, who stands the homebred Ghostzapper and his sire, Awesome Again, and campaigns Shaman Ghost as a homebred.

Shaman Ghost isn’t the only runner fueling Ghostzapper early this season, however, as he already has two graded-stakes-winning 3-year-olds. McCraken, among the early favorites for the spring classics, remained undefeated with a track-record-setting performance in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs. A day later, Iliad won the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita.

Both earned Beyers of 95 that rank among the top five figures for 3-year-old males this season. They will take the next steps on the Kentucky Derby trail on March 11, with McCraken likely returning for the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby and Iliad stretching out in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes.

Ghostzapper was known for brilliant speed that he could carry a distance, with his top Beyers being the 128 he posted in winning the 2004 Philip H. Iselin at Monmouth and the 124 he earned in winning the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Lone Star, the latter securing his Horse of the Year title.

While those figures set a high bar, Ghostzapper is passing class on to his own progeny. On DRF’s Beyer Sire Performance Standings, he ranked in the top 20 active sires of 2016 by individual runners to earn figures of 90 or higher. In total, 6.1 percent of his progeny reached that mark last year. Interestingly, Ghostzapper’s half-brother City Zip, standing at Lane’s End, has a nearly identical figure for that category at 6.2 percent.

Like City Zip – who has sired Eclipse Award winners routing on turf and sprinting on dirt – versatility has been a hallmark of Ghostzapper’s stallion career. Shaman Ghost and Moreno both won major route events in New York, and McCraken and Iliad will look to follow that path as the distances get longer on the Derby trail.

However, Ghostzapper is also the sire of several notable sprinters, led by champion Judy the Beauty and Eclipse Award finalist Paulassilverlining. Ghostzapper is also the sire of Grade 1 turf-stakes winner Za Approval and stakes runners such as Hunters Bay and Mr Maybe.

With Ghostzapper and City Zip both prominent among Kentucky sires, another half-brother, City Wolf, looks to join the fold this year. The graded-stakes-winning Adena Springs homebred moved to the operation’s Kentucky base this year after beginning his stud career in Florida; his first foals are juveniles this year.

-edited from Russo

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