Shaman Ghost By A Nose Over Dolphus In Pimlico Special

by | 05.19.2017 | 3:14pm
Adena Springs Farm's Shaman Ghost (left) noses out Dolphus, his stablemate in the Jimmy Jerkens barn, to win the Pimlico Special

Frank Stronach's multiple Grade 1 winner Shaman Ghost had to work much harder than the odds board suggested to win Friday afternoon's G3 Pimlico Special. Off at 1-5, Shaman Ghost faced a strong challenge from frontrunner Dolphus (6-1) in the stretch, but the favorite was able to get his head down first in a photo finish of Jimmy Jerkens trainees at the wire. Under Javier Castellano, the 5-year-old son of Ghostzapper covered 1 3/16 miles over Pimlico's fast main track in 1:54.55.

The 47th running of the 1 3/16-mile Pimlico Special for 3-year-olds and up was a first for trainer Jimmy Jerkens, whose father, late Hall of Famer Allen Jerkens, trained 1993 winner and 1994 and 1995 runner-up Devil His Due.

“I remember coming here with Devil His Due three years in a row. It was always a big deal. I remember when my dad came the year he won,” Jerkens said. “It's terrific to run 1-2. It's what we came down here for.”

Dolphus was quick out of the starting gate, out-sprinting the pair of Discreet Lover and Conquest Windycity to the first turn and marking the first quarter-mile in 23.84 seconds. Rajiv Maragh was able to ease Dolphus back a bit for the second quarter once the colt had made a 1 1/2-length lead; the half-mile fraction was 47.92 seconds. Behind the front four, including Fellowship, was Santa Anita Handicap winner Shaman Ghost just to the outside of Watershed, biding his time under Castellano while tucked behind horses.

“I love the horse and I have so much confidence in him because he reminds me of his father,” said Castellano, Ghostzapper's regular rider. “This is such an honest horse. I could have gone to the lead anytime but I didn't want to. He's very straightforward. You can put him wherever you want.”

After three quarters in 1:12.41, Dolphus began to move away from his rivals and Castellano had to swing outside three-to-four wide to make his move with Shaman Ghost. Maragh was trying to sneak away from the favorite at the head of the lane, increasing his advantage to nearly two lengths with the hope that his colt's heart would grow big and he'd be able to hold off the favorite. Castellano and Shaman Ghost had to work hard to draw alongside Dolphus, and he rallied back along the inside rail, fighting all the way to the wire.

Castellano cleverly put Shaman Ghost very close to Dolphus, trapping him along the inside fence; it couldn't be called crowding, because Dolphus' path was never impeded, but the intimidation factor definitely played a role in the final 70 yards as Shaman Ghost finally was able to pass his stablemate to win by a head. Dolphus, the half-brother to Rachel Alexandra, was certainly not disgraced in second. Conquest Windycity stayed on to be third, and Name Changer was just behind him in fourth.

“Dolphus had his own way. He wasn't exactly walking. But he got the three quarters in 1:12 and the way the track was playing today, I thought he had a shot to hang on,” Jerkens said. “Shaman had just a little too much for him, but Dolphus ran terrific.”

Bred in Ontario by Stronach's Adena Springs, Shaman Ghost captured the Queen's Plate to be the best of his generation in Canada in 2015. Transferred below the border to Jerkens' barn, the horse has been in prime form in 2017, finishing second to Arrogate in the Pegasus World Cup and winning the Santa Anita Handicap in California. Overall, Shaman Ghost boasts a record of eight wins from 16 starts, with earnings of over $3.7 million.

“It's great to win for Mr. Stronach at his track,” Jerkens said, “and it's great to keep Shaman going.”

  • David Worley

    That track is very speed biased today. Shaman Ghost was the much superior horse in the race and darn near couldn’t make up 3 lengths on the leader. The same trend played out in every dirt race today. Wish the track was a little more balanced.

    • Michael Castellano

      Don’t think either of the favorites will let the outside speed steal it in the Preakness. If they really battle it out early, there could be a closer.

      • David Worley

        I hope you are right. The other thing too is I know Pletcher has a healthy respect for Conquest Mo Money, so you know he and JV will be not let him get to far out in front.

        • Michael Castellano

          Starts are impossible to predict, but CMM has to go out for the lead. Does he get it? That’s what makes the race hard to figure. My guess is he does get the lead off a good break. CMM also lasted against Classic Empire in the Arkansas Derby after battling the entire race on the lead and made two moves and almost a third before giving away slightly. To hold him off the lead might take too much horse. So they let him set the pace but stay close, that’s my guess, and look for position. Doesn’t look like he would be able to hold off both favorites. BTW, those two might be co-favorites.

  • Ida Lee

    I most certainly was not expecting this close a race…..I didn’t watch it live cause I thought the winner was obvious…oops !!

  • Jackson Canine

    Someone needs to provide Dave Rodman with oxygen, I’m not sure he’ll make it through 14 races on Saturday. His rapid inhaling between phrases is a bit annoying.

  • Jbumi

    Congratulations, Shaman Ghost & Dolphus!! I really liked the way Dolphus hung in there against one of the top older handicap runners behind Arrogate (EVERYBODY’s behind Arrogate!!). Very happy for Mr. Jerkens to run 1-2. 👍🏿

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