Local Hope Runaway Ghost Delivers A Dream Victory In Sunland Derby

For 85-year-old Joe Peacock, winning the Grade 3 Sunland Derby and earning a spot in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby is beyond a dream come true. The long-time breeder and owner sent out a third-generation homebred in Sunland Park's premiere race on Sunday, and Runaway Ghost rewarded him with an impressive two-length victory. The sophomore son of Ghostzapper, ridden by Tracy Hebert for trainer Todd Fincher, burst to the front around the far turn and was kept to task through the lane, completing nine furlongs over the fast main track in 1:49.20.

The 50 points granted to the Sunland Derby winner are enough to virtually guarantee the colt a shot at the Run for the Roses. He was a late Triple Crown nominee, but now stands in seventh on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.

As the only local horse in the race, Runaway Ghost was bet down to the race favorite at 7-2 from his morning-line odds of 8-1. Breaking from the 11th stall in the 12-horse field, the colt was able to stay wide and settle early under Hebert, stalking a solid pace of :45.80 and 1:10.27. When Hebert asked him the question, Runaway Ghost jumped into the bridle and put three lengths on the field as he turned for home.

All alone on the lead, Runaway Ghost appeared to get a little bit lost in the stretch, but a bit of late pressure from runner-up Dream Baby Dream re-engaged his attention. Hebert rode him through the wire about two lengths in front of the 14-1 shot Dream Baby Dream. Peace finished third at 4-1, just ahead of Seven Trumpets (13-1), and Dark Vader finished fifth.

Runaway Ghost's bloodlines trace back to a 1991 mare named Snippet (Alysheba). Peacock arranged a mating between her and 1995 Horse of the Year Peaks and Valleys, and was rewarded with the mare Miss Glen Rose in 2001. Though she was never particularly successful on the racetrack, Miss Glen Rose produced for Peacock the seven-time New Mexico-bred stakes winner Rose's Desert (Desert God). The earner of over $600,000 was also trained by Todd Fincher.

Rose's Desert's first mating was with Ghostzapper, and Runaway Ghost is her first foal. Peacock sent the colt to the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling sale, but bidding stopped just $10,000 shy of his $250,000 reserve. Despite post-sale offers, Peacock brought the colt home and sent him to Fincher.

He was second on debut at Santa Anita in May of his juvenile season, then broke his maiden at The Great Race Place in June (besting a field that included future graded stakes winner and Derby candidate My Boy Jack). Runaway Ghost returned in November to win the listed Golden Nugget Stakes at Golden Gate Fields by 7 1/2 lengths, but was well-beaten in his first start around two turns, the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity, after vying for the early lead.

The Kentucky-bred returned to New Mexico to win the listed Riley Allison Stakes in January, earning his two-turn graduation by 7 3/4 lengths. He was defeated just 2 1/2 lengths by Reride in the $100,000 Mine That Bird Derby, again after dueling for the early lead. The colt's early relaxation was a key factor in his Sunland Derby triumph, which also happened to be the first graded stakes victory for his owner/breeder.

Overall, Runaway Ghost's record stands at four wins and two seconds from seven starts, with earnings of over $640,000.

Peacock's post-race comment when asked about the Kentucky Derby for his colt? Simple.

“We're going to get there just as fast as we can.”

The post Local Hope Runaway Ghost Delivers A Dream Victory In Sunland Derby appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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