ELMONT, N.Y. -- After winning the biggest race in Canada last year at age 3, Shaman Ghost won on one of the biggest days in the United States on Saturday, when he scored an emphatic victory in the Grade 2, $400,000 Brooklyn Invitational Stakes, a 1-1/2-mile race for older horses that served as a warm-up act for the Belmont Stakes later in the day at Belmont Park.
Shaman Ghost ($9) was always forwardly placed behind a soft pace, and when he knifed between rivals at the top of the stretch under jockey Joel Rosario, the acceleration was immediate and overwhelming. He bounded clear passing the eighth pole and drew away to score by 4-1/4 lengths, unleashing a 24.39-second final quarter-mile that carried him to the wire in 2:28.40 on the fast main track.
Turco Bravo outfinished Elnaawi by a length for second. Samraat was fourth and was followed by Securitiz, Doyouknowsomething, the favored Kid Cruz, Neck 'n Neck, Catholic Cowboy, and Waymond Boyd.
Shaman Ghost was trained last year by Brian Lynch. But late last year, trainer Jimmy Jerkens said he got a call from Frank Stronach, the owner and breeder of Shaman Ghost, asking if he would take the horse.
"He called me out of the blue," Jerkens said outside the winner's circle.
Shaman Ghost did not get back to the races until May 21, nearly 10 months after his last start, and he finished third in an optional-claiming race at Belmont Park.
"He ran a lot better than it looks on paper," Jerkens said. "He never gave up. Thank God the race went."
With that prep, Shaman Ghost was set for a major move forward in his first try at 1-1/2 miles.
"He never gets tired," Jerkens said.
Shaman Ghost, 4, is a colt by Ghostzapper out of the Gilded Time mare Getback Time. He has now won 5 of 10 starts, and the $220,000 winner's share brought his career total to more than $900,000.