RED GHOST RISES TO MISS PREAKNESS WIN
With eerie similarity to The Very One Stakes run on the Pimlico turf just prior, a late charge on the inside by Red Ghost was good enough to nose out a pair of contenders at the wire in the $150,000 Miss Preakness stakes (G3) at six furlongs on the main track for three-year old fillies.
Shortly out of the gate the nine-horse field separated into two packs with John Velazquez aboard Red Ghost, Abrogate, Euphoric and Joyful Cadence in the lead group, setting the opening quarter mark in 22.88.
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Red Ghost and Euphoric paired up to separate from that group with Red Ghost maintaining a small lead around the turn turning the first half mile in a little more tempered down to 45.80. Red Ghost conceded the lead on the inside by as much as a half-length and dropped to third when Joyful Cadence with Irad Ortiz aboard rejoined contenders on an outside path. That duo was battling when Red Ghost rallied on the rail to win by a nose in 1:10.53. Euphoric with Javier Castellano aboard held second, while Joyful Cadence managed third.
“She got passed, almost a length,” said jockey John Velazquez. “She was looking to the inside and the other horses passed her. She didn’t even care. She kept looking to the inside and leaning out and I got after her. I got after her at the three-sixteenths pole and she came back.”
Contenders in this year’s Miss Preakness found Covfefe’s 2019 track record time of 1:07.70, (the last time the Miss Preakness was run in front of fans and in the spring) a tough act to follow.
The morning line favorite, trainer Steve Asmussen’s Abrogate (7-2) came into the race after collecting two wins at Oaklawn Park in 2021. Red Ghost, the favorite at post time, paid $6.20 for the win.
For Red Ghost, the win gives the daughter of Ghostzapper out of the Elusive Quality mare Better Than Most her third win in four career starts, her only setback coming in her only turf start at Kentucky Downs in September of 2020. Wesley Ward trains the homebred of Douglas Scharbauer. Velazquez has won both of his two trips aboard.
“When he got after her she looked like she was not done,” explained David Flores, an assistant to Ward. “He felt like he had horse. She is very competitive, and she was able to make a comeback.”
Jockeys of the horses in the photo found the finish puzzling, especially with the three of them having the lead at some point in the race.
“To be honest with you, I thought I won the race,” said Castellano having lost the bob.
“She got the perfect trip, can’t complain, no excuses,” remarked Irad Ortiz, Jr. on Joyful Candence. “Once she got the lead, she thought it was over.”
In The Very One stakes prior run a race before, jockey Florent Geroux got the nose of Caravel up along the rail to win in 56.21 over a firm turf course for a home-bred of trainer Elizabeth Merryman. Caravel is a four-year-old filly sired by Mizzen Mast by the Congrats mare Zeezee Zoomzoom. Caraval has finished third in The Very One run in the fall last year due to Covid-19.