G3 Winner Ghost Hunter Record-Setting Winner of Saturday Feature

December 10, 2019

Sophomore Top Line Growth Breaks One-Mile Dirt Mark in Victory

McCarthy Wins Three; Rainbow 6, Super Hi-5 Carryovers Sunday

LAUREL, MD – Triple K Stables and Jagger Inc.’s Grade 3 winner Ghost Hunter earned the second win of his 9-year-old season in record-setting fashion at Laurel Park, splitting horses in deep stretch and closing steadily for a neck victory over favored Dundalk in Saturday’s featured sixth race.

It was the 21st win from 62 lifetime starts for Ghost Hunter ($11.60), who ran one mile in 1:33.63 over a firm Bowl Game turf course layout to break the mark of 1:33.91 set by Pizmo Time April 28.

Ghost Hunter, who has 45 top three finishes in his career, also holds the course record of 1:39.00 for 1 1/16 miles on the All Along turf course, set July 10, 2016.

“He had [the record] before,” winning trainer Jamie Ness said. “He had it for a couple years and he lost it, and now he’s got it back again. I guess he wanted it back.”

Dundalk, sent off as the 8-5 favorite over six rivals in the $45,000 second-level optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds and up, established command early from his far outside post position and was in front through fractions of 23.30 and 47.29 seconds and 1:10.58. Hall Pass gave chase for a quarter mile before dropping back and having No Bull Addiction pick up the stalking spot.

Jockey Trevor McCarthy settled Ghost Hunter in fourth and gave the gelded son of Hall of Famer Ghostzapper his cue rounding the far turn, angled four wide and found room between foes inside the eighth pole before being set down for the drive to catch Dundalk approaching the wire. Critical Data was another head back in third.

Ghost Hunter, the 2017 Arlington Handicap (G3) winner, began 2019 with a victory May 3 at Laurel before an uncharacteristic 10th place finish 20 days later at Pimlico Race Course under Daniel Centeno. His win Saturday pushed Ghost Hunter’s career bankroll to $827,963.

“He was going down the backside and they have those tracks that go across. He’s kind of a quirky horse. He took a bad step in one of those cracks where they drive across and he just dropped the bit. He said, ‘I’m done,’ which is odd for him, because he always runs,” Ness said.

“No excuses. Dan said after he did that, he just quit,” he added. “So, we threw that one out and he obviously runs good on this track so we brought him back down here. He’s 9 years old, so I run him where he can win. I don’t like to run him over his head. This is where he belongs.”

Ness said a return to stakes competition is not out of the question. The 1 1/16-mile Presque Isle Mile, a race he won in 2016 and finished second the past two years, is Sept. 9.

“Maybe the Presque Isle Mile. He’s run that race four years in a row and he’s got a win and a couple seconds,” Ness said. “Maybe if everything’s going good at that time we’ll take a chance there, but for now we’ll just keep him where he’s at. He likes to win and I want to put him where he can win.”

In Saturday’s co-feature, Mens Grille Racing’s Ghouls Night Out ($14.40) engaged with Lady by Choice from the gate, losing the lead at the head of the lane but battling back in a stretch-long duel to get up by a neck in Race 7, a $45,000 second-level optional claiming allowance for fillies and mares 3 and up. It was the fourth career win, all at Laurel, for the 5-year-old Ghostzapper mare, who finished in the money in 10 of 14 starts last year.

“The last race up at Delaware, she didn’t run bad. The racetrack up there is a lot cuppier than ours, and she just didn’t handle it as well as she handles this racetrack. But she ran hard. I really expected a good race out of her today,” winning trainer Hamilton Smith said. “I’m not going to run her quite as hard this year. I ran her too much last year, I thought, so we’ll space them out and she’s a Maryland-bred, so maybe we point to some of the Maryland-bred stuff later in the year.”

Sophomore Top Line Growth Breaks One-Mile Dirt Mark in Victory

The Elkstone Group’s Top Line Growth, exiting a troubled fifth-place finish in the Sir Barton Stakes last out, rebounded with an eight-length romp in course record time for one mile over a fast main track in Saturday’s eighth race.

In the first of back-to-back winners for trainer Kelly Rubley and jockey Julien Pimentel, 3-year-old Top Line Growth ($4.20) completed the distance in 1:34.07. The previous record of 1:34 2/5 was established by multiple stakes winner Skipper’s Friend, then 4, Dec. 6, 1980.

Top Line Growth, the even-money favorite in just his third career start and first against older horses, shadowed pacesetter Trifor Gold as he went quarter-mile in 23.80 seconds and a half in 46.66. Pimentel assumed the lead midway on the turn without resistance and continued on, extending his advantage under a hand ride.

“I can’t believe it. He was just cruising,” Pimentel said. “He was galloping; I didn’t even move on him.”

Pimentel has been aboard for each of Top Line Growth’s races, including a 9 ½-length debut score April 22 at Laurel. In the 1 1/16-mile Sir Barton, they got pinched back at the start and raced near the back, getting within a length of the lead after six furlongs before dropping back.

“It was a lot to ask for a horse running second time against a little better competition. He was just looking around a lot that day,” Pimentel said. “He didn’t come out of the gate that good. He was just a little green. But he’s a nice horse, obviously.”

Pimentel and Rubley teamed up again to win Race 9 with Gunpowder Farms’ homebred Lone Sentry ($24.80).

Notes: Jockey Trevor McCarthy visited the winner’s circle three times Saturday, with Well Hello ($4.20) in Race 4, Ghost Hunter ($11.60) in Race 6 and The Great Provider ($3.80) in Race 12. Both Ghost Hunter and The Great Provider, an 8-year-old gelding with 14 career wins, are trained by Jamie Ness.

There will carryovers of $5,062.04 in the 20-cent Rainbow 6 (Races 5-10) and $2,342.19 in the $1 Super Hi-5 (Race 1) for Sunday’s 10-race card which begins at 1:10 p.m. Tickets with five of six winners in Saturday’s Rainbow 6 returned $358.36.

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