SUNLAND PARK, NM – Joe Peacock’s homebred Runaway Ghost spurned the 11 out-of-towners running against him on his home track and scored a major victory in Sunday’s Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Derby.
Sent off from post 11 as the lukewarm 4/1 betting favorite, Runaway Ghost ran five- and six-wide in mid-pack early on while All Out Blitz and New York Central set a blistering pace in a :45.80 opening 1/2-mile. As the leaders began tiring, Runaway Ghost made his move through the far turn and took command near the 1/4-pole. Drawing clear in the upper stretch, Runaway Ghost held sway through to the wire, crossing 2 3/4 lengths ahead of Dream Baby Dream in a final time of 1:49.20 for the 1 1/8-mile main track event.
Six lengths behind Dream Baby Dream, Peace necked out third over Seven Trumpets. Fifth went to Dark Vader, with Choo Choo, Shane Zain, All Out Blitz, Prince Lucky, New York Central, Hollywood Star, and Fortified Effort completing the order of finish.
The Sunland Derby is part of the Road to the 2018 Kentucky Derby prep race season. Runaway Ghost earned 50 points for the win, with Dream Baby Dream receiving 20 for second, Peace 10 for third, and Seven Trumpets 5 for fourth.
Runaway Ghost’s win was his second in three starts at Sunland Park, where he’s been based under Fincher’s care since Peacock moved the colt from southern California. With an overall record of 7-4-2-0 and career earnings of $563,510, the son of Ghostzapper could be headed for a rematch with McKinzie in the Kentucky Derby after the latter defeated him in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity last December.
Runaway Ghost returned $9.80 to win, $6 to place, and $4 to show. Dream Baby Dream brought back $15.20 to place and $7.20 to show, while Peace paid $3.60 to show.