Trainer Todd Fincher had sent out 26 winners from 109 starters at the Sunland Park meet when the field went to post for Sunday’s GIII Sunland Derby, but his 27th victory was undoubtedly the sweetest when Runaway Ghost bounded home a decisive winner of the New Mexico track’s signature race. The Joe Peacock homebred made a swift move to bust the race open coming off the far turn and held resolutely to give both owner and trainer their respective first graded stakes tallies ever.
Taking solid play as the 7-2 second choice as the lone local-based horse in a field of 12, Runaway Ghost went around the first turn in the five path and made steady progress on the outside in midpack behind a half-mile carved out by All Out Blitz (Concord Point) in :45.80. Wide again into the second turn, he swept past the leaders in the four path and opened up a sizable advantage turning for home. With no real threats in midstretch, he coasted across the wire safely clear of Dream Baby Dream.
“We know he’s legit,” Fincher said. “The problem with him is he’s a little headstrong early in the race. We tried to work to get him to relax better. We had a long run to the first turn and I figured we’d be a bit wide, but that’s better than having a horse laying on us…Credit to the jockey [Tracy Hebert], he did a great job.”
Joe Peacock Sr., a Texan who initially became involved in racing through Quarter Horses in the ’60s and ’70s, eventually moved on to breeding and racing Thoroughbreds [click here for a December 2017 story by TDN‘s Jessica Martini] with his son Joe Peacock, Jr. After Runaway Ghost began his career with two wins from four starts in California with trainer Mike Machowsky, Peacock elected to transfer Runaway Ghost to Fincher, who also campaigned the colt’s dam, 10-time winner and $626,035 earner Rose’s Desert, from 2010-2013. The colt immediately responded with a score in the Jan. 28 Riley Allison S. and a runner-up finish in the Feb. 25 Mine That Bird Derby.
“He’s number one in the Thoroughbreds I’ve ever had,” said Peacock in the winner’s circle after the Sunland Derby. “When I sent him over to Todd, Todd thought he might be a nice horse. If he thought so, I know I thought so.”
For his win, Runaway Ghost earned 50 qualifying points toward the GI Kentucky Derby, effectively guaranteeing the colt a spot in the starting gate on the first Saturday in May. When asked about future plans, Fincher said he would wait to see how Runaway Ghost emerged from Sunday’s effort before making any commitments.
“We all want to go to the Kentucky Derby,” Fincher said. “We’ll put the horse first and let him tell us where we should go.”
Rose’s Desert–the only broodmare owned by the Peacocks–produced a colt by Curlin in 2016 and a filly by Ghostzapper in 2017. She was bred back to Mineshaft.
Sunday, Sunland Park
SUNLAND DERBY-GIII, $800,000, SUN, 3-25, 3yo, 1 1/8m, 1:49.20, ft.
1–RUNAWAY GHOST, 122, c, 3, by Ghostzapper
1st Dam: Rose’s Desert (MSW, $626,035), by Desert God
2nd Dam: Miss Glen Rose, by Peaks and Valleys
3rd Dam: Snippet, by Alysheba
1ST GRADED STAKES WIN. ($240,000 RNA Ylg ’16 KEESEP).
O/B-Joe R Peacock (KY); T-Todd W. Fincher; J-Tracy J. Hebert.
$400,000. Lifetime Record: 7-4-2-0, $563,510. Werk Nick
Rating: A. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Dream Baby Dream, 122, c, 3, Into Mischief–Galetoire, by
Songandaprayer. ($20,000 Wlg ’15 KEENOV; $210,000 Ylg ’16
KEESEP; $210,000 2yo ’17 OBSMAR). O-Dream Baby Dream
Racing Stable; B-Pegasus Stud LLC (KY); T-Steven M. Asmussen.
3–Peace, 122, c, 3, Violence–Queen’s Triomphe, by Cure the
Blues. ($37,000 RNA Wlg ’15 KEENOV; $50,000 Ylg ’16 FTKJUL;
$75,000 Ylg ’16 FTKOCT; $280,000 2yo ’17 OBSAPR).
O-Spendthrift Farm LLC & Town and Country Racing, LLC;
B-Grade I Bloodstock & Tony Holmes (KY); T-Richard E.
Margins: 2 3/4, 6, NK. Odds: 3.90, 16.30, 4.20.
Also Ran: Seven Trumpets, Dark Vader, Choo Choo, Shane Zain, All Out Blitz, Prince Lucky, New York Central, Hollywood Star, Fortified Effort. Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.