01/16/2014 3:51PM

Santa Anita: Hear the Ghost looks to complete comeback in Strub Stakes

Emily Shields
Hear the Ghost and jockey Corey Nakatani win the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes last March.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The last time Hear the Ghost ran 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita, he won the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes last March, briefly rising to the fore of the circuit’s 3-year-old division.

An injury detected after that race ended Hear the Ghost’s spring campaign, but there are signs that he could be back to stakes-winning form.

Hear the Ghost returned to racing last fall, and his runner-up finishes in two starts at Hollywood Park in November and December suggest that he can win Saturday’s $200,000 Strub Stakes for 4-year-olds at Santa Anita. The distance should be ideal – the Grade 2 Strub Stakes is at 1 1/16 miles.

Owned by Halo Farms and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, Hear the Ghost was second to Cyclometer in an optional claiming race for sprinters in early November and second to stablemate Blueskiesnrainbows in the Grade 3 Native Diver Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on Dec. 14.

The form of those races has held up. Cyclometer won the Midnight Lute Stakes this month at Santa Anita. Blueskiesnrainbows won the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes last weekend.

[Strub Stakes: Get PPs, watch Saturday's card live]

Corey Nakatani has ridden Hear the Ghost in his last three starts and retains the mount. For Nakatani, the loss in the Native Diver was not a setback in advance of the Strub Stakes.

“The other day, he kind of needed the race because he had one sprint,” Nakatani said. “He only got beat a half-length. He ran a big race. I don’t think he has any limitations. He’s a horse with a high cruising speed.”

Hear the Ghost is one of two Hollendorfer-trained runners in the Strub, which is being run for the first time this year in January at 1 1/16 miles. The Strub previously was contested at 1 1/8 miles in early February. The Strub essentially takes the place on the stakes calendar of the San Fernando Stakes, which was run in past years at 1 1/16 miles in January but was not scheduled this year.

Hollendorfer also will send out Zeewat, the winner of the Damascus Stakes at seven furlongs for 3-year-olds in November on Breeders’ Cup weekend. Zeewat was third to Shakin It Up in the Grade 1 Malibu at seven furlongs for 3-year-olds here on Dec. 26. Shakin It Up is part of the Strub field.

Zeewat won the California Derby at 1 1/16 miles at Golden Gate Fields in January 2013 and was fifth a month later in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at the same track behind Dice Flavor, another Strub runner. Zeewat did not start again until August and was kept to one turn for the rest of 2013.

“He can run long,” Hollendorfer said. “I gave him some time off, and we ran him short.”

The Strub Stakes will be the first start on dirt for Dice Flavor and Rookie Sensation, who won the Grade 2 Twilight Derby on turf here in November. They have raced on turf and synthetic tracks so far.

The field includes longshots Heir of Storm, seventh in the Malibu, and Saw Ow, fourth in an optional claimer on Jan. 1. Trainer Bob Baffert will saddle both Shakin It Up and Govenor Charlie, the latter unraced since finishing eighth in the Preakness Stakes.

Govenor Charlie was entered in an allowance race on Jan. 1 but did not start after experiencing stomach cramps. Shakin It Up has won two graded stakes at seven furlongs but was fourth behind Govenor Charlie in the Sunland Park Derby at 1 1/8 miles. That race was his only start around two turns.

“I don’t know if he’ll go two turns, but we’ll find out,” Baffert said. “He came out of his last race well.”

not impressed More than 1 year ago
These races are a joke. I won't be watching or betting on this race. I've stopped watching ALL the races they've shortened these past few years. They're not even mentionable races at this point. Why not just cut ALL the classic races back to 7f and call it a day. I'll go back to watching International racing. At least their races keep their dignity and conditions year in and year out. Just another reason why our horses are SO inferior and are never bred to run far. American breeders only have incentives to run 6f to 8f, so why bother trying to get a Triple Crown winner? WHAT A JOKE. No wonder our classic horses keep ending up in Europe or Japan. Sheesh.
Bil Wil More than 1 year ago
too much emotion. try relaxing & using your passion in a more constructive way. offer some solutions. "our horses are SO inferior"..What Breeders' Cup did u watch??
Jordan More than 1 year ago
But then there is a horse like Game on Dude who has won 5 grade 1 races at 10 furlongs and keeps getting passed over in Eclipse voting. Shouldn't we be rewarding a horse like this? Guess not.
martymar . More than 1 year ago
omg, there is a non-premium article that doesn't involve a passing.
michael More than 1 year ago
Its just bait so you bite the hook.
Cover2 More than 1 year ago
Its time to drop this one like the Sf stks, only race for 4 yr olds in country ! the days of great circle & spinney are gone !
jttf More than 1 year ago
shakin it up won after a long layoff and multiple 6 furlong works. now, govenor charlie is doing the same pattern. multilple 6 furlong works increase your chances of winning, but it will increase your injuries also. shakin it up, govenor charlie hear the ghost all got hurt during the derby trail with this too hard on the horse training. this is why we should stick to the traditional 4f and 5f works. watchout for flashback who has three straight 6f works.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
This race is Ghost's to lose. Facing turf runners, sprinters, and comebackers.
W.H. Anderson More than 1 year ago
What happened to the San Fernando Stakes which always preceded the Strub ??? The Strub was 1 1/8 miles and the San Fernando was 1 1/16 miles. I always looked forward to the 3 stakes for the 3 turned 4 year olds, The Malibu, The San Fernando, and The Strub. Then it was on to The Big Cap for the top of the class. Too bad for the new format.
nick More than 1 year ago
I agree, it was a nice little stakes series to start the new year. Guess Santa Amiga doesn't really care about tradition . . .
Quite A Dude More than 1 year ago
They don't have enough horses to run the Strub series and Older Stakes races so they eliminated the San Fernando and now run the Strub at a mile and a sixteenth. A sad state of affairs..
Ann More than 1 year ago
Actually, the tradition was the Charles H. Strub (nee Santa Anita Maturity) at 10f, preceeded by the San Fernando at 9f. The denaturing of the series started when they cut them down in distance the first time. The problem lies with the trainers of stakes horses, who want to rest them 4-6 week between races these days. When these series were set up, 2-3 weeks was all that was needed between races. And it is not just Bute and Lasix - 20 years ago, stakes horses ran in races closer together than they do now despite having those meds. Something else is at work in trainers' minds that has led them to abandon the hard-won experience of all the horsemen of the past 100 years.
michael More than 1 year ago
You're right, the trainers are not horsemen any more. Read van bergs approach and lets get back to racing horses. A ahell of thesport of kings
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Well it is time for Hear The Ghost to follow in his Brothers footsteps and win a Graded stake for Papa. United Colors was extremely impressive today in Dubai.
[removed] More than 1 year ago
This comment has been deleted
W.H. Anderson More than 1 year ago
Your mother is a LOSER
scott More than 1 year ago
and overweight