Runaway Ghost is the second graded stakes winner of the year and 34th overall for 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper, who was bred by Frank Stronach's Adena Springs and is a son of another Stronach homebred, Awesome Again . Ghostzapper now has five black-type winners so far in 2018.
"He's a very, very special horse to this farm," said Ben Walden, Adena Springs' director of marketing and bloodstock consultant. "Frank Stronach bred him, and you can look back at his race record—he was an absolute once-in-a-lifetime horse. He was a champion. He beat one of the strongest (Breeders' Cup) Classic (G1) fields ever to be assembled."
Runaway Ghost, a Joe Peacock Sr. homebred, earned 50 qualifying points toward a starting position in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1). He now ranks seventh on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.
The 3-year-old colt is out of the Desert God mare Rose's Desert, a multiple stakes winner for Peacock who won 10 of 15 races at Sunland and Zia Park, finishing second in her other five starts. Desert God, an unraced son of Fappiano, produced 30 stakes winners in his years at stud and was a five-time leading sire in New Mexico.
The cross of Ghostzapper with dams by sons of Fappiano has produced 28 starters, and four (14%) have gone on to be stakes winners, compared with a starter-to-stakes winner rate of 11% when the sire has been crossed with other broodmare sires. Aside from Runaway Ghost, the three other stakes winners are grade 1 winner Paulassilverling, who is out of a daughter by Grindstone; multiple graded stakes winner Pacific Ocean, whose broodmare sire is Unbridled; and Treacherous, whose dam is by First American.
Ghostzapper's fruitful Saturday included victories by his daughter Faypien, who took the Harry Henson Handicap going one mile, and his son Mt Veeder, who was the victor in the Bill Thomas Memorial Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs. Both races were on the Sunland Derby undercard.
"It was a great day for (Ghostzapper)," Walden said. "Most importantly, the style in which Runaway Ghost won the race was significant. It was an easy win, and a clear win. He appears to have a lot of talent, which is exciting looking forward to the Derby."
Fifteenth on the general leading sires list through March 28, Ghostzapper's stud fee is again climbing after he began his career as a six-figure stallion and then saw his fee drop as low as $20,000 in 2011. Walden said that over the last four years, the stallion's book has ranged between 125 to 134 mares, which is more stable than in previous years. His 2018 stud fee is $85,000.
"This year we've got a 128 (booked) and we are going to cap him in the mid-130s again. He's a very efficient breeder; he's a very professional horse in every way. He's got a great mind—very easy to be around."
Overall, Ghostzapper is the sire of 11 grade 1 winners and champions Shaman Ghost , Judy the Beauty, Hunters Bay , and Mexican champion Zapper Pirate. Last year, his son McCraken won the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) and placed third in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2) to earn a place in the starting gate of the Kentucky Derby.
Ghostzapper's five stakes winners so far this year include Queen's Plate winner and Sovereign Award finalist Holy Helena, who scored her first graded stakes in the March 3 The Very One Stakes (G3T); and his newest black-type winner Enchanted Ghost, who was a 3 1/4-length winner of the Feb. 17 Wide Country Stakes at Laurel Park.
Out of 2005 Broodmare of the Year Baby Zip, Ghostzapper is a half brother to the late City Zip, a grade 1 winner and this year's 10th-leading sire to date.