Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino
Saturday, February 2, 2019
by Eric Alwan
2018 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) Runaway Ghost earns triumphant return in $75,000 Ft. Bliss Stakes
2018 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) Runaway Ghost earned a triumphant return to the races in the $75,000 Ft. Bliss Stakes at Sunland Park Race Track and Casino on Saturday.
Coming off a 9-month layoff since his victory in the $800,000 Sunland Derby, Runaway Ghost closed viciously off the pace to mow down Secular Nation in mid-stretch and win the six furlong stakes by 2 and 1/2 lengths. With Santiago Gonzalez in the saddle, Runaway Ghost overcame a bobble at the start and immediately gained a stalking position down the backstretch.
Runaway Ghost idled along in second place while Secular Nation cut out fractions of 21.88 and 44.33 seconds for the first two calls. Heading into the stretch, Runaway Ghost kick into high gear and went on the attack and never looked back. The son of Ghostzapper drew clear with authority in a resounding victory against older runners. He sped through the six furlongs in a rapid 1:08.44. The four-year-old colt scored his fourth career stakes win for owner Joe Peacock. The victory was worth $45,000, pushing his lifetime earnings past $605,000.
Trainer Todd Fincher was very pleased with his star’s performance. He used a series a very productive workouts at Sunland Park to prepare his horse for a great comebacker. The public bet him down to 3-5 favoritism.
Secular Nation flashed terrific speed in his third straight stakes appearance. The Duke City Sprint Stakes winner from Albuquerque last summer ran a big race in second place and was nearly 6 lengths in front of Cowboy Cool. The runner-up was ridden by Ry Eikleberry and trained by Henry Dominguez.
Hustle Up speeds away in $85,000 Red Hedeman Mile
New Mexico-bred stakes star Hustle Up rolled to a front running win in the 17th running of the $85,000 Red Hedeman Mile. Under leading rider Luis Contreras, dictated the pace and never let up on the throttle. The three-year-old son of Abstraction completely dominated in a 5 and 1/2 length romp. His seventh career win from nine starts was worth $51,000. The 2018 Copper Top Futurity winner has earned over $303,000 in less than 11 months of racing.
The 1-2 favorite is owned Dale Taylor, Bobby McQueen and Suzanne Kirby. Hustle Up punctuated a great day for trainer Todd Fincher who won two big stakes on the day.
Sunscreen closed with interest to gain second place, edging out third place finisher Quite Peace.
Precious Looker wins photo finish in $85,000 Enchantress Stakes
Precious Looker defeated Singing Mary by a nose to win the $85,000 Enchantress Stakes at one mile. Under Jockey Casey Chavez, Precious Looker lunged at the wire to win the photo finish for trainer Gerald Marr. Unbeaten in two starts, Precious Looker earned $51,000 for owners Phillip Wood and Jim Hailey.
Singing Mary just missed in second, finishing three lengths in front of Reina Del Norte.
Live racing resumes on Sunday at 12:30 p.m.
Photo Credit: Coady Photography