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Hear the Ghost wasn’t a name that very many racing fans would be familiar with on Saturday morning, but everyone would know who he was on Saturday night. Making only his third career start and ranked near the bottom of the Horse Racing Nation Top 50 Derby contenders, he literally came out of nowhere to win the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita race track, shaking up the west coast three-year-old division.

When the gates flew open in the eight horse, 1 1/16th mile affair, favorite Goldencents made an early push for the lead along with Salutos Amigos, but gave way to the speedster early before moving with Flashback around the start of the first stretch to take over the race. Goldencents, who is Doug O’Neill’s top Derby contender this spring looked sharp early, as did Bob Baffert’s Flashback, and those two were seemingly turning the race into a two horse contest; a move that would come back to haunt them in the final furlong.

At the top of the stretch, Flashback and Goldencents had moved away from the field showing off their speed as they went nose to nose. As they were battling and starting to tire Hear the Ghost and Tiz a Minister put on a late burst of speed and challenged the obviously fading front runners. Flashback was able to put away and outlast Goldencents, but he didn’t have the juice left to hold off Hear the Ghost, as the Jerry Hollendorfer thoroughbred surged into the lead at just the right time to take the victory and earn 50 points in the Kentucky Derby Championship Series, which will likely earn him a trip to Louisville for the first Saturday in May. Flashback managed to salvage second place, Tiz the Minister took third, and Goldencents finished fourth as he ran out of gas.

Jockey Corey Nakatani is confident in Hear the Ghost and believes he is only going to improve from here; “He gets in that high cruising speed, and he just kind of cruises along, you don’t have to ask him, you don’t have to even move on him. He’s a little seasoned horse. He’s gotten better each time that I’ve been able to do something with him.” {1}

We are likely to see each of these horses again in what would promise to be an outstanding rematch in the Santa Anita Derby on April 6th. Continue to follow the Derby Trail with, as we’ll be with you every step of the way.