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Hear the Ghost Gets Upset Win in San Felipe Stakes

Hear the Ghost.jpg
Hear the Ghost pulls out to a half-length lead over even-money favorite Flashback in the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita. (Benoit Photography/used with permission)
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Just when you thought you knew everything, you find out you know nothing. The Grade II San Felipe Stakes was billed to be a duel between Bob Baffert's horse Flashback and Doug O'Neill's horse Goldencents. Imagine everyone's surprise when Jerry Hollendorfer's Hear the Ghost charged on the outside to win the stakes and the 50 points in the Kentucky Derby points system.

The money at race time had Flashback the even-money favorite with Goldencents right behind at 2-1.

Salutos Amigos broke out of the gate setting the pace with Goldencents quickly matching by the first turn. As Salutos Amigos fell back towards the pack, it was Goldencents and Flashback dueling each other just like everyone predicted.

Then something curious happened in the final turn. Flashback started pulling ahead of Goldencents and was looking primed for the win. But coming from the pack were a charging Hear the Ghost and Tiz a Minister from the outside. Goldencents started falling back in the final furlong while Hear the Ghost kept charging from the outside.

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"We're disappointed, but when you're running in Derby preps you have to have a horse that can adapt to different situations," O'Neill said about the fourth place finish by Goldencents. "He maybe didn't settle as well as we would have liked."

Whether it was from fatigue from fighting with Goldencents through most of the race, Flashback didn't have the legs to hold off Hear the Ghost who won by half a length.

"He just wouldn't do what I wanted to do," Flashback rider Julien Leparoux said about the disappointing finish.

So the 5-1 Hear the Ghost ridden by Corey Nakatani wins the stakes, wins the 50 points in the Kentucky Derby points system and is now considered a contender for the Greatest Two Minutes in Sports. Hear the Ghost paid $13.80 to win.

"I'd like to get on the Derby trail with a horse, and this is it," Nakatani said. Also when asked if his Mexican restaurant in Azusa C Nak's El Loco would be open everyone at Santa Anita, he made a startling proclamation. "Everyone can come over and have a free meal tonight!"

The next big day for Santa Anita leading up to the Kentucky Derby is Apr. 6 with the running of the Santa Anita Derby. Presumably Flashback, Goldencents and Hear the Ghost will highlight the field of three-year olds in the 1-1/8 mile Grade I race. The winner will be a big factor in the Kentucky Derby seeing as how seven winners at Santa Anita went on to win at Churchill Downs including last year's winner I'll Have Another.

The race was also further proof that I am no horse prognosticator. In my preview of the San Felipe Stakes yesterday, I wrote that Carving racing out of the no. 1 position could be a horse to watch despite some disappointing outings recently. The money responded by going from a morning 15-1 line to 31-1 at race time. It was almost like co-owner Bode Miller in the 2006 Winter Olympics.

updated with quotes and photo