Sunland Park Handicap & Copper Top Futurity

Runaway Ghost - Sunland Park Handicap - 2019

Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino
Saturday, May 4, 2019
by Eric Alwan

Runaway Ghost dominant in $150,000 Sunland Park Handicap

Joe Peacock’s Runaway Ghost added another stakes victory to his already impressive career resume, taking the 60th running of the $150,000 Sunland Park Handicap with a dominant performance Sunday afternoon under jockey Santiago Gonzalez.

The winner of last year’s Grade 3 $800,000 Sunland Park Derby once again displayed his brilliance, easily putting away his early pace rival American Dubai midway around the far turn, then drawing clear in the final furlong on his way to a 5 ¼-length victory.

Trained by Todd Fincher, Runaway Ghost picked up his fifth win from six starts at Sunland Park, with scores this season in the Curribot Handicap and Fort Bliss Stakes, as well as last year’s Riley Allison Derby. The son of Kentucky-bred Ghostzapper has now won seven times in his 11-race career. The $90,000 lion’s share of the purse in the Sunland Park Handicap increases his career earnings to more than $744,000.

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Runaway Ghost ran the 1 1/8 mile distance in a final time of 1 minute, 48.1 seconds.

Sent off as the heavy favorite, Runaway Ghost returned $3 to win, while the $1 exacta combining the winner with runner-up Lookin At Lee, ridden by Alfredo Juarez, Jr., returned a chalky $3.40. American Dubai and Ry Eikleberry were narrowly edged for the place while Classic Gent and jockey Luis Rodriguez finished fourth.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Mine That Bird’s incredible 50-1 longshot win in the 2009 Kentucky Derby, Mine That Bird and trainer Chip Woolley led the field onto the racetrack for the Sunland Park Handicap. Woolley ponied the now 13-year-old gelding through the post parade. Mine That Bird now resides at Mark Allen’s Double Eagle Ranch, just outside of Roswell, N.M. Dr. Leonard Blach is his co-owner.

Shame On Read wires field in $149,353 Copper Top Futurity

With a quick burst of acceleration out of the gate, Shame On Read and jockey Elvin Gonzalez had the rest of the field at his mercy, running away with a gate-to-wire score in Saturday’s $149,353 Copper Top Futurity at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino.

Sent off as the 2-to-1 post time favorite, Shame On Read broke out of the gate and assumed command quickly, leading his nearest rivals through an opening quarter mile of 22.83 seconds. Gonzalez kept busy at the head of the lane aboard the New Mexico-bred son of Shame On Charlie before distancing himself from the field, crossing the wire 3 lengths in front, completing the 4 ½ furlongs in a final time of 52.2 seconds.

Trained by Dallas Barton and owned by Glenn and Linda Berry, Shame On Read ran third in his career debut here on April 14 when trials for the Copper Top were held. His final time that day earned him a spot in the starting gate for the futurity, in which he earned not only his maiden win but a stakes victory as well.

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The win places his lifetime earnings at just a bit more than $75,000 to his winning connections.

Runner-up Dancinstardustlady, with J.C. Villanueva aboard, outfinished Stormin Fast and jockey Santiago Gonzalez for the place while Wiskey Crown finished fourth under Alejando Medellin.

Shame On Read returned $6 to his winning backers, with the $1 exacta combining the winner with Dancinstardustlady coming back $16.70. Spec and Go New Go were both scratched earlier in the day.

Live racing resumes Sunday with a closing day program that has a first post time of 12:50 p.m. The featured events on the Sunday card are a pair of 2-year-old quarter horse stakes races, including the $324,120 Grade 2 West Texas Futurity and the $393,483 Grade 2 (Restricted) New Mexican Spring Futurity. Both events are slated to be run at a distance of 300 yards.

Photo Credit: Coady Photography