Count Ghost Hunter as the latest example of good things that come to those who wait.
In his 46th career start, the 7-year-old Ghostzapper gelding notched his first career graded stakes triumph when he shot through up the inside in the lane to prevail by three-quarters of a length in the $100,000 Arlington Handicap (G3T) at Arlington International Racecourse.
Having long toiled in the allowance ranks—where he was a consistent top-three runner—Ghost Hunter took his first swing at graded company last November when he finished fourth in the Autumn Stakes (G2) over the all-weather surface at Woodbine. The bay gelding stepped it up a bit with a runner-up effort in the May 13 Hanshin Cup Stakes (G3) at Arlington on synthetic and came into the 1 3/16-miles Arlington Handicap off a half-length triumph in a salty allowance turf test at Delaware Park | BloodHorse.com Track Profile"> Park June 15 where he bested grade 1 winner Ring Weekend.
The Jamie Ness-trained Ghost Hunter put it all together Saturday, saving ground along the rail in a close-up third as 79-1 shot Crewman had fellow longshot Oak Brook at his hip through fractions of :23.71 and :48.61. While Oak Brook bravely outran his 45-1 odds and was still holding tough in midstretch, Ghost Hunter came up the rail under Edwin Gonzalez on his way to covering the distance in 1:55.86 over a firm turf.
"He's very versatile. His best surface is probably Polytrack, and he's a horse who tends to find trouble, but today we found the rail and got through and got the 'W'," Ness said.
Sent off at 12-1 odds, Ghost Hunter bested his seven rivals to earn his 18th career win and boost his earnings to $633,523 for owners Triple K Stables. Oak Brook edged out Kasaqui for the place. Manitoulinfinished fourth.
Ghost Hunter was purchased by Triple K Stables for $30,000 out of the 2012 June Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. 2-year-olds and horses of racing age sale. He is out of the stakes-winning Kafwain mare Hartfelt.