07/11/2013 11:55AM

DRF Breeding Hot Sire: Ghostzapper


Courtesy Adena SpringsGhostzapper

During a 50-minute span on July 6, Adena Springs stallion Ghostzapper was represented by a trio of graded stakes winners at three different tracks in one of those thrilling bursts of productivity that make bloodstock aficionados sit up and take notice. In Ghostzapper’s case, such an accomplishment was expected from the day he was retired to stud following one of the most brilliant racing careers of the past two decades.

Moreno’s breakthrough win in the Grade 2 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont (5:18 p.m. Eastern), Starship Truffles’s commanding score in the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap at Calder (5:26 p.m.), and Schiaparelli’s game win in the Grade 2 Royal Heroine Mile on turf at Betfair Hollywood Park (3:08 p.m. Pacific) came well into the respective racing careers of those runners. In that respect, they were following a path familiar to their sire.

Schiaparelli’s win was the least surprising considering her recent form. The 5-year-old mare, who took the Royal Heroine Mile in front-running fashion as the 11-10 favorite, picked up her second consecutive stakes win at Hollywood after a similar pace-controlling score in the six-furlong Great Lady M. Stakes on May 26.

Schiaparelli's dam, the Avenue of Flags mare Cambiocorsa, made 10 starts on Santa Anita's downhill turf course, and her impressive eight wins were highlighted by the Grade 3 Sen. Ken Maddy and Las Cienegas, plus the listed Wishing Well and Irish O’Brien stakes. Cambiocorsa’s full brother, California Flag, won five of eight starts on the course, including the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint and four Grade 3 stakes.

Given this influence, Schiaparelli’s stretch-out win in the Royal Heroine Mile was a bonus for owners and breeders Jan Vandebos and Robert Naify’s RanJan Racing and augered well for her future racing prospects and a possible start in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint this fall. Unfortuately, on July 12 Vandebos said that Schaparelli would not race again after a bone scan revealed changes that would keep her from high-level training. She concludes her racing career with five wins from nine starts and $274,184 in earnings.

Moreno’s performance in the 1 1/16-mile Dwyer was a bit more surprising, but the Southern Equine Stable homebred (named after Southern Equine owner Mike Moreno) had indicated that he might have finally figured things out when he romped in a maiden race in his prior start at Belmont, which was his first on the East Coast since shipping in from California.

The 3-year-old won the one-mile maiden special weight race on a muddy track June 8 by 6 1/4 lengths and came back with an even more dominant performance in the Dwyer. Moreno, who was gelded this year, has won both of his starts at Belmont after going winless in nine starts in Southern California, though he had been second to subsequent Grade 2 Swaps Stakes winner Chief Havoc in a maiden race.

Moreno is the second winner out of the unraced A.P. Indy mare Danceinthesunlight, which places him in one of the best female families of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. His grandam is Canadian champion Dancethruthedawn, by Mr. Prospector; his third dam is Canadian Horse of the Year and U.S. champion Dance Smartly, by Danzig; and his fourth dam is Canadian champion Classy ’n Smart, by Smarten.

This is the elite Sam-Son Farms bloodline that has produced Grade 1 winner and leading sire Smart Strike, Canadian and U.S. champion and successful sire Sky Classic, Canadian champions Regal Classic and Grey Classic, and a host of other standouts.

Trainer Eric Guillot said the 1 1/8-mile, Grade 2 West Virginia Derby on Aug. 3 might be the next start for Moreno, which will give the gelding a chance to stretch his speed and pick up his first two-turn win on dirt – something that should be within his scope, based on his pedigree.

Starship Truffles is the most experienced of Ghostzapper’s newest stars, having racked up 13 wins at Calder and Gulfstream – primarily in starter-allowance races – before handling a major class hike in the six-furlong Princess Rooney. The 4-year-old filly has a pedigree that through the first three generations tilts toward turf, with several useful runners of Grade 3 quality.

Her dam, the Not For Love mare Bobbie Use, won the 2004 Tropical Park Oaks on turf, and her third dam, the Grade 3 Gallorette winner La Reine Elaine, produced two course recordholders on turf at Mountaineer. La Reine Elaine is a full sister to stakes winner La Reine Rouge, the second dam of Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro.

An $11,000 Keeneland yearling and $22,000 Ocala June 2-year-old who was claimed twice in 2012 would not appear to have the best chance of giving Ghostzapper his first Grade 1 winner of 2013, but Starship Truffles did just that with her 3 3/4-length score over the favored Judy the Beauty, another daughter of Ghostzapper. As with many of her sire’s progeny, Starship Truffles appears to be reaching her full potential later in her racing career. She is a late addition to Fasig-Tipton’s inaugural July sale of horses of racing age, scheduled for Monday in Lexington, Ky.

Ghostzapper himself was a bit of a late developer. Quarter cracks hindered the horse’s development, and he was judiciously campaigned early in his career by the late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel and owner and breeder Frank Stronach. Their decisions paid off handsomely when the freakishly talented horse hit his stride on the racetrack during the summer of 2004.

Regarded primarily as a sprinter to that point, having won the Grade 1 Vosburgh at 6 1/2 furlongs in 2003, Ghostzapper returned from a nine-month layoff in July with a 4 1/4-length win in the seven-furlong, Grade 2 Tom Fool. He would go on to win his remaining three starts in 2004, romping in the Grade 3 Philip Iselin, outfinishing Saint Liam in the Grade 1 Woodward, and then setting a stakes and track record of 1:59.02 for 1 1/4 miles in taking the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Lone Star Park.

A comeback win in the next spring’s Met Mile would be the last start for the 2004 Horse of the Year, who was retired to Stronach’s Adena Springs due to a fracture of the sesamoid bone in his left foreleg.

With Stonestreet Stables’ Jess Jackson buying a one-third interest in the stallion, Ghostzapper entered Adena’s Kentucky division in 2006 at a pre-recession fee of $200,000. His appealing stallion qualities were many: His sire, Adena’s fellow Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Awesome Again, already was producing top runners such as Grade 1 winners Wilko, Toccet, and Round Pond. Out of the stakes-winning Relaunch mare Baby Zip, Ghostzapper was a half-brother to Grade 1 winner and sire City Zip. Plus, Ghostzapper’s own achievements, particularly relating to speed figures achieved at distances from six furlongs to 1 1/4 miles, were regarded by many as the best of the contemporary era.

Ghostzapper only had one stakes winner from his first crop during their 2009 unveiling: listed winner Golden Ghost. First-crop foal Stately Victor would win the 2010 Blue Grass to become the stallion’s first Grade 1 winner, and Arena Elvira would take the Grade 2 Falls City at 4 in 2011. In 2012, first-crop Hunters Bay won two Grade 3 races and finished second in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile to earn the Sovereign Award as Canada’s champion older horse. Pacific Ocean and La Cloche also would win Grade 3 races as older horses.

The late development of many of Ghostzapper’s best runners augurs well for his continued prominence as his fifth crop hits the racetrack this year. He was bred to 105 mares in 2012 and stood for a fee of $40,000 this year. He ranked 17th on the North American general sire list through last Tuesday.

The stallion has two other Grade 1 winners in addition to Stately Victor and the newly minted Starship Truffles. Contested, the winner last year of two Grade 1 races, the Test and Acorn, was purchased by Shadai Farm for $2.3 million at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November mixed sale and sent to Japan. Better Lucky, who won last year’s Grade 1 Matriarch and finished a strong second in the Just a Game last month at Belmont, is still in training and could resurface at Saratoga.

Other Ghostzapper runners to watch are the aforementioned Judy the Beauty and this year’s San Felipe winner, Hear the Ghost, who is recovering from a minor knee injury but could return to training later this summer.