Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Saturday, July 20, 2013

| Churchill Downs Communications | 07/20/2013 #
  • Ghostly Wonder (photo by MIchael Adolphson)

In Today’s Notes: Local Juvenile Winner Catches Attention of Coolmore; Rosemary Homeister, Jr. Out Two Days with Bruised Wrist

On June 2, in an ordinary 4½-furlong 2-year-old maiden special weight event, an unknown colt with long odds in the short field ran off the screen with noticeable ease under a nearly motionless Florent Geroux.  His name is Ghostly Wonder, and on that day he popped out of the gate and into the early lead before easily extending his stride and lead down the stretch to win by 4½ widening lengths for the ownership group of Diana Jacobs and Ted and Jean Barlas.  The win not only displayed great promise to Arlington onlookers, but also was impressive enough to catch the attention of one of the most powerful ownership and breeding outfits in the world, Coolmore.

Trained by Andy Hansen, Ghostly Wonder displayed an excellent innate cruising rate that day, as well as a great extension of his stride toward the end of the race that hinted at a penchant for more distance.  The numbers from the performance were also impressive, as his 78 Beyer Speed Figure – at the time the fastest of any 2-year-old – is still one of the highest of the year for any juvenile.    

“(Coolmore) came and took a look at him and ran some tests and wanted me to breeze him,” reported Hansen who did not work the colt at the time, as it was not in his proper training pattern.  The trainer was originally going to aim the colt toward a start in Saturday’s Prairie Meadows Juvenile, but instead decided that the colt was special enough to wait for even bigger prizes.  The Coolmore representatives were equally as patient with Hansen.

A partnership headed by Mr. and Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, Coolmore has breeding farms in Australia, Kentucky and its home base of Ireland, and horses in training throughout the world.  As an ownership entity, Coolmore has fully purchased young horses before, but has also purchased portions of prospects and left them in the hands of their original trainers.  For example, before this year’s Kentucky Derby they purchased a portion of Verrazano and kept him with trainer Todd Pletcher. 

“They looked at him again and watched him gallop last Saturday and they are going to wait a few weeks and watch him breeze when he’s ready.  Like I mentioned before, I really want a good 3-year-old, no matter what happens with him.”  A March foal, the Kentucky-bred still has plenty of time to improve and, as a meager $33,000 purchase, is already a wonderful return on investment.

“I think he’s going to be a very nice 3-year-old.  In the past, maybe we’ve rushed our babies when we’ve been excited about them.  I’m taking my time with him.  He’s such a laid back 2-year-old – nothing bothers him,” the trainer said of the colt.

Hansen’s first goal with Ghostly Wonder, if all goes well, is to win the Grade III $150,000 Arlington-Washington Futurity on September 7.  “I think he’ll stretch out – he has a nice big stride and relaxes great.”  A son of Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (around two turns) winner Corinthian out of the Verne Winchell-saturated female family of American Derby winner Olympio, Ghostly Wonder has every right to justify his conditioner’s confidence. 

Jockey Rosemary Homeister, Jr. was involved in an incident Friday afternoon in the sixth race in which her mount, the Dale Bennett-trained Between Dreams, clipped heels nearing upper stretch, tossing the jockey to the turf.  Homeister was conscious after the event and was immediately taken to Northwestern Community Hospital to be examined.

“Rosemary bruised a wrist. She will be off her mounts today and most likely tomorrow.  We’re shooting to be back on Thursday,” reported jockey agent Jay Fedor.  The spill was the second of the meet for Homeister, who took a tumble Wednesday, June 19, on the Ingrid Mason-trained Rahab Your Soul. 

Homeister, despite the two setbacks, is currently the leader in in-the-money percentage (51%) with her mounts and is tenth in the standings for wins (19).

In other jockey news, jockey James Graham pulled ahead in a very contentious jockey race with a Friday hat trick.  Going into Friday, Graham had a one-win lead on Florent Geroux 37-36.  After no wins by Geroux on Friday, Graham’s 40-36 win margin is now the largest lead any jockey has had in more than a month.  On Saturday, Geroux and Graham have six and seven rides, respectively.