Douglas Scharbauer’s Red Ghost fought back along the rail in the final strides to get her nose down on the wire in the $150,000 Miss Preakness Stakes (G3) at Pimlico Race Course.
The homebred daughter of Ghostzapper just edged Euphoric, with Joyful Cadence a head back in a thrilling finish to the six-furlong event on the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) undercard in Maryland. Trainer Wesley Ward said his filly may have punched her ticket to the Aug. 7 Test Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course, where she scored on debut last summer.
It was the first career stakes win from four starts for Red Ghost, who was foaled and raised at Hidden Brook Farm in Paris, Kentucky.
Sent off as the 2-1 favorite in a field of eight, Red Ghost ran the opening quarter-mile in :22.88 and a half in :45.80 pressed by Euphoric on her right hip, with Joyful Cadence in the clear three wide. Euphoric stuck a head in front around the turn and hit the top of the stretch with the lead, as Joyful Cadence swept up to challenge on the far outside. Those two dug in through the final eighth but it was Velazquez who coaxed more out of Red Ghost to come on again and get the win. Final time was 1:10.53 on a fast track.
“She got passed, almost a length,” Velazquez said. “She was looking to the inside and the other horses passed her. She didn’t even care. She kept looking to the inside and leaning out and I got after her. I got after her at the three-sixteenths pole, and she came back.”
“I think that was all Johnny V. right there,” Ward said of the narrow success.
Red Ghost ran twice as a 2-year-old, breaking her maiden in debut Aug. 30 at Saratoga and wheeling back Sept. 15 to finish seventh in the 6 1/2-furlong Untapable Stakes on the Kentucky Downs turf. She didn’t race again until April 16, when she won a six-furlong Keeneland allowance event by two lengths against males.
“The only issue was, I ran her back way to quick after she won at Saratoga,” Ward said. “I told the owners I’d like to give her the winter off and point for the Test this summer. She came back and beat those boys at Keeneland convincingly.
“I just think we can bring this horse in fresh, get her works in over her home track at Keeneland, and have a great shot at winning the Test.”
Scharbauer bred Red Ghost out of the unraced Elusive Quality mare Better Than Most, whose seven starters have all been winners. Several of her earlier foals excelled in state-bred company in Texas, including black-type winners Worldventurer , W V Jetsetter , and More Than Most . Red Ghost is her ninth of 11 foals. She has a 2-year-old Union Rags filly named Gold Queen and her last reported foal is a yearling Uncle Mo filly.
Red Ghost improved her career record to three wins from four starts, with earnings of $182,200.
– edited from www.BloodHorse.com