With three wins Saturday including the Grade II San Pasqual Stakes with front-running favorite Blueskiesnrainbows, Team Hollendorfer hopes to continue its winning ways next Saturday when it sends out the double-barreled duo of Hear the Ghost
in the Grade II, $200,000 Strub Stakes for 4-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles.
The three victories moved Hollendorfer into a tie with Bob Baffert for the training lead at 11 each, Hollendorfer’s coming from 27 starters (41 percent) and Baffert’s from 32 (34 percent).
Hear the Ghost, a gelded son of 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper, won the Grade II San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita as a 3-year-old, and last out was second to stablemate Blueskiesnrainbows in the Grade III Native Diver Stakes at Hollywood Park Dec. 14.
Corey Nakatani, who has ridden Hear the Ghost in three of his five career starts, the last three in a row, retains the mount on the consistent Kentucky-bred chestnut, who has never finished worse than second.
“I think he’s very talented,” Nakatani said. “I think he can do either, go to the lead or track and come from behind.
“If they want to go too fast, he’ll be tracking. If they want to go a moderate pace, I think he can be on the lead.”
Zeewat, who will be ridden by leading rider Rafael Bejarano, closed from 14 lengths back at the half-mile marker to finish third in the Grade I Malibu Stakes at seven furlongs on opening day, beaten just a length and a quarter.
Prior to that, the son of Harlan’s Holiday upset Flashback in the Damascus Stakes at Santa Anita on Nov. 2. Flashback, trained by Bob Baffert, will try to make amends in the Strub.
Mark Casse, trainer of Kaigun, had the Canadian-bred son of Northern Afleet scheduled to fly out from Florida Monday morning for the Strub, but was mulling a final decision for the chestnut gelding at press time.
“He’s a really nice horse who has never run on dirt, but he’s trained well on it,” Casse said. Four of Kaigun’s starts have come on synthetic surfaces, and the last three on grass.
Probable for the Strub: Flashback, no rider; Hear the Ghost, Corey Nakatani; Heir of Storm, Edwin Maldonado; Rookie Sensation, Victor Espinoza; and Zeewat, Rafael Bejarano. Flashback and Shakin It Up worked in company for Baffert Sunday morning, going six furlongs in 1:14.40 and 1:14.60, respectively.