03/06/2013 3:12PM

San Felipe Stakes: Hear the Ghost could make noise at Santa Anita in two-turn debut

Shigeki Kikkawa
Hear the Ghost has made both of his starts at six furlongs but will stretch out to 1 1/16 miles for the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes.

ARCADIA, Calif. – In his first start around two turns, Hear the Ghost may be a late threat to 3-year-old stars Flashback and Goldencents in Saturday’s $300,000 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita.

Hear the Ghost has started twice at six furlongs, winning his debut in a 16-1 upset against maidens at Betfair Hollywood Park on Dec. 15 and running a game second in the San Pedro Stakes here Jan. 21.

The Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at 1 1/16 miles puts Hear the Ghost in a different league, against two of the toughest 3-year-olds in Southern California. The gelding is ready for the test, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said Wednesday.

“We’re looking forward to stretching him out,” Hollendorfer said. “We think he’ll do that. We’ve worked him seven-eighths twice, and he looked good last time.”

Hear the Ghost, the mount of Corey Nakatani, drew post 5 Wednesday in a field of eight for the San Felipe, a major prep for the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 6. Flashback, unbeaten in two starts and the winner of the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes over 1 1/16 miles Feb. 2, will be favored and drew post 2. Goldencents, the winner of the Grade 3 Sham Stakes on Jan. 5, will start from post 3 as the second choice in the betting.

Hear the Ghost races for Hollendorfer and Ted Aroney’s Halo Farms. By Ghostzapper out of the Coronado Quest mare Rehear, Hear the Ghost has a pedigree that suggests he will be suited to longer races.

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“He’s a pretty laid-back horse and easy to work with,” Hollendorfer said.

The San Felipe will be the graded-stakes debut for four other runners – Kochees, Omega Star, Salutos Amigos and Tiz a Minister. Carving, the winner of the Real Quiet Stakes at Hollywood Park in November, was fourth in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields last month.

Kochees was fourth in a tough optional claimer over a mile Jan. 31. Race winner Super Ninety Nine won the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 18, and runner-up Code West was second in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds on Feb. 23.

“He ran in one of the most productive first-condition races of the meeting,” said Mike Pender, who trains Kochees. “It was a salty race.”

Kochees is a closer who Pender thinks can be a factor Saturday.

“We’ll find out more about him,” he said. “I think he wants to go a mile and an eighth or a mile and a quarter.”

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