12/27/2014 5:39PM

Ghost Bay powers to Maryland Futurity win

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Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Ghost Bay, ridden by Forest Boyce, breaks his maiden in the Maryland Futurity on Saturday.

A maiden won the $125,000 Maryland Futurity at Laurel Park on Saturday, but it was not favored Stonebriar, it was 7-2 Ghost Bay. He overcame a rough start and then blasted to the lead from between horses in upper stretch to win going away by 4 1/2 lengths over Gin Fuzz.

Ghost Bay had finished third in his first two starts, closing from far back in each of those six-furlong races. And on Saturday, he found himself far back again after getting squeezed back from between horses soon after the start of the seven-furlong Futurity.

Jockey Forest Boyce thought highly enough of Ghost Bay to give up a day of riding at Fair Grounds to keep the mount.

“He’s a really cool horse, I’ve loved him since Day 1,” Boyce said. “After the start, the inside horses came out and the outside horses came in and I thought we were going to go down at one point.”

But Ghost Bay kept his feet under him. He moved up on the turn between horses, and in upper stretch a big hole opened as Sunrise Sunset drifted outward. Ghost Bay found his best gear and it was clear the race was over in midstretch.

Ghost Bay paid $9.20 to win as the second choice in the 11-horse field of Maryland-bred 2-year-olds. He completed the seven furlongs in 1:24.73, following fractions of 23.02, 46.50, and 1:12.61.

“The longer the better for him,” trainer Lawrence Murray said. “I thought he’d show better speed in his second start but he didn’t, so he needs to go longer.”

The Futurity was a roughly run race. There was a lot of bumping at the break, which also affected fourth-place finisher Final Prospect. Sunrise Sunset, the 7-2 third choice, raced greenly throughout, drifting in and out on the backstretch and through the stretch run. His path twice crossed with that of favored Stonebriar, also a maiden.

At the start, Daystrike went to the lead from the rail while being pressed by longshots My Vet's a Genius and Silver Bop. Sunrise Sunset made a nice move on the turn to take a clear lead but drifted outward entering the stretch in front of Stonebriar, who was gearing up for his run. Stonebriar raced in tight quarters into the stretch while possibly being intimidated by Sunrise Sunset and then flattened out to finish eighth. Sunrise Sunset also brushed with Stonebriar on the backstretch.

The stewards conducted an inquiry into the stretch run but did not change the order of finish.

Gin Fuzz, who rallied wide into the stretch outside Stonebriar and Sunrise Sunset, finished well for second, a half-length in front of Sunrise Sunset.

The three early leaders, Daystrike, My Vet's a Genius, and Silver Bop, finished ninth, 10th, and 11th.