Updated on 03/12/2013 10:10AM

Santa Anita: Hear the Ghost upsets in San Felipe

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Barbara D. Livingston
Hear the Ghost (5), with Corey Nakatani riding, beats Flashback in the San Felipe.

ARCADIA, Calif. - There were eight horses in the Grade 2, $300,000 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday, but Flashback and Goldencents acted as if the race was theirs, and theirs alone, and it cost them.

Hear the Ghost ($13.80), benefiting from a silly speed duel between the 3-year-old colts heretofore acknowledged as the best Kentucky Derby prospects on the West Coast, rallied from fifth the final half of the 1 1/16-mile race and nailed Flashback near the wire to score a half-length win in this final major prep for next month's Santa Anita Derby.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

The previously unbeaten Flashback, the even-money favorite, won the battle with Goldencents, but lost the war. He finished second, a half-length in front of Tiz a Minister, who finished boldly for third.

Goldencents faded late to fourth and was followed, in order, by Salutos Amigos, Carving, Omega Star, and Kochees.

Hear the Ghost completed 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:42.34, but it was the early portion of the race that told the tale. Both Goldencents and Flashback pulled their way to be in front of the speedy sprinter Salutos Amigos after a half-mile in 45.95 seconds. They were still volleying for the lead after six furlongs in 1:09.94, but both understandably got weary in the stretch.

"I thought this horse had a very good chance to run them down," said Jerry Hollendorfer, who trains Hear the Ghost and owns him in partnership with the Halo Farms of Ted Aroney. "I thought they'd put up a very good pace."

Jockey Corey Nakatani took care of the rest. He bided his time watching the Comedy Central special unfold in front of him, then pounced.

Flashback, starting from post 2, took a few strides to finally get into gear, then moved up inside horses heading into the first turn. Salutos Amigos already was on the lead, with Goldencents in hot pursuit. Flashback, for the first time in his life, found himself inside and behind horses.

"He just took off," said his jockey, Julien Leparoux. Flashback roared up three paths wide, outside Salutos Amigos and Goldencents.

Goldencents also failed to rate properly under jockey Kevin Krigger, whose elbows were practically dug into his kidneys. Despite the tight, long hold, Goldencents wanted nothing to do with cooperating, and both he and Flashback overtook Salutos Amigos.

Hear the Ghost, by Ghostzapper, was making his third start after two outings at six furlongs. He won his debut at Betfair Hollywood Park on Dec. 15, then was second in the San Pedro Stakes here on Jan. 21.

According to Hollendorfer, Hear the Ghost was gelded after his debut, and before the San Pedro.

"He wasn't acting right," Hollendorfer said. "He was very difficult to handle then."

Hear the Ghost was purchased as a yearling by Hollendorfer for $40,000.

The San Felipe was worth 85 points overall, with 50 to the winner, under the points system instituted this year by Churchill Downs to determine eligibility to the May 4 Kentucky Derby.

"We're allowed to be on the trail, I guess," Hollendorfer said.