Ghost Hunter seeks revenge in Mile
Familiar foes will face off Sunday night in the $200,000 Presque Isle Mile, which has drawn last year’s one-two finishers Gigantic Breeze and Ghost Hunter back to the track.
The Presque Isle Mile is one of two stakes at the Erie, Pa., track on the eve of its biggest race, Monday’s Grade 2, $400,000 Presque Isle Masters. Sunday’s other stakes is the $100,000 Mrs. Henry D. Paxson Memorial Stakes for Pennsylvania-bred 2-year-old fillies.
Gigantic Breeze defeated Ghost Hunter by four lengths in last year’s Presque Isle Mile. Since then, their paths have diverged. Gigantic Breeze went on to win the Grade 2 Autumn Stakes at Woodbine. He is winless in three outings this year, but did finish third in Woodbine’s Grade 2 Eclipse Stakes and, most recently, second in the Grade 3 Seagram Cup. He was defeated in the latter by wire-to-wire performer Decorated Soldier, who was making his graded stakes debut.
Decorated Soldier is well drawn for his running style, landing in post 2 under Willie Martinez for trainer Norm McKnight. Gigantic Breeze is drawn in post 4 for Alex McPherson, with Mario Pino in the irons.
Veteran campaigner Ghost Hunter, who typically sits midpack, but has the tactical ability to stalk at a closer spot if needed, breaks from the rail under Antonio Gallardo. The gelding comes into the Presque Isle Mile off two recent placings at the track, finishing second by a head in an optional-claiming event, and then third by a length in an allowance. Both those defeats came at the hands of Nipigon, who is multiple stakesplaced at Woodbine and looking for his first stakes victory in the Presque Isle Mile.
Matrooh won the Grade 3 Hanshin Cup in May at Arlington Park and subsequently finished third, beaten four lengths, in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs. He comes in off a thirdplace finish in the Grade 3 West Virginia Governor’s Cup.
Pioneer Spirit, a stakes winner in July at Indiana Grand in his most recent outing, ships in for the red-hot team of trainer Brad Cox and jockey Florent Geroux.
The Presque Isle Mile is preceded by the Paxson Memorial, in which the temperamental Amy Farah Fowler, who is stakes-placed despite her green antics, will look to put things together for a victory for ownertrainer Ron Potts.
Amy Farah Fowler ran off in the post parade prior to her debut May 21 at Presque Isle, then shied three times from a right-handed whip in the stretch run. Yet she still powered clear to win by 5 1/4 lengths. In her second start July 5, Amy Farah Fowler broke free from her handlers in the paddock prior to the race, but again proved much the best to win the optionalclaiming event by 8 3/4 lengths.
She then traveled to Monmouth for the Aug. 4 Colleen Stakes, where she finished second to the promising Mae Never No. Back home against fellow Pennsylvaniabred juveniles in the $100,000 Mark McDermott Stakes earlier this month at Presque Isle, the filly first shied out from a left-handed whip, then bore in from right-handed urging down the lane, finishing second to unbeaten Delta Express.