Ghostzapper on Verge of Becoming Triple Crown Stud

Profile Picture: D.S. Williamson

D.S. Williamson

March 23rd, 2017

Ghostzapper, one of  the best horses to run in the past 20 years, is on the verge of becoming a Triple Crown stud. Like Pioneerof thenile, who was American Pharoah's father, and Uncle Mo, who sired 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist, Ghostzapper could accentuate an already successful stud career if one of his two Kentucky Derby contending progeny were to take home the Derby, or, magically, the Triple Crown.

Before discussing those two contenders, I thought it important to think about Ghoztzapper's connections. He was as brilliant of a racehorse as I've ever seen.


Frank Stronach owned Ghozstapper. Stronach, the owner of Santa Anita and Gulfstream, hired Bobby Frankel to train Ghostzapper. Up to that point, Frankel had been known as a turf trainer, arguably the best in the world. Not only did Frankel train horses for Stronach, but he also trained horses for one of the most important and successful racing outfits in the world, Juddmonte Farms. In 2004, the year he won the Breeders' Cup Classic, Ghostzapper was thought of a sprinter before he won the Phillip E. Iselin Handicap at Monmouth by an incredible 10.75 lengths. After that, Frankel pointed the talented horse to the BC Classic.

The great Javier Castellano, who has won the Eclipse for Outstanding Jockey four years running, rode Ghostzapper in the Classic.



McCraken remains one of the top three-year-olds in the nation. He was brilliant when winning the Sam F. Davis Stakes. He had to skip the Tampa Bay Derby. But, there is time for him to get one more prep race in before the Run for the Roses. Supposedly, trainer Ian Wilkes has McCracken pointing to the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. The one thing to note about McCraken is that unlike his dad, the horse prefers to hang back and make a big run.

His turn of foot is terrific. I'd like to see him show that turn of foot and then pull away from rivals in the Blue Grass before making him my Derby horse.



Trained by Doug O'Neil, Iliad ran fantastic in his first foray around two-turns in the San Felipe Stakes. No horse three-year-old was going to beat Mastery. Since the Bob Baffert trained wunderkind has gotten hurt, Iliad now becomes the top West Coast prospect for the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont. He's trained by Doug O'Neil. O'Neil has won two Kentucky Derbies:  in 2012 with I'll Have Another and in 2016 with Nyquist. Both times, Mario Guitierrez was O'Neil's jockey. Guitierrez is Iliad's jockey. The connections are fantastic.

Iliad runs more like Ghostzapper than McCraken. He's got the speed to stay close. After he made a great move in the San Felipe to get even with Mastery, it looked like he might put that rival away. Mastery was just too much for him. Iliad did hold off the closers. Kris S. shows up on Iliad's dam's side. A mile and a quarter shouldn't be an issue.

Currently, Ghostzapper's stud fee is $75,000. If either McCraken or Iliad were to win the Kentucky Derby, the former Horse of the Year's fee could go up to $100,000. Is it Ghostzapper's turn for one of his progeny to win the Run for the Roses ala Pioneerof thenile in 2015 and Uncle Mo in 2016? We're going to find out soon enough.