SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Ken Russell and Richard Newman Racing’s Foolish Ghost splashed to a sharp 3 3/4-length victory in Thursday’s $100,000 John Morrissey, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for New York-breds 3-years-old and up at Saratoga Race Course.
With Joel Rosario up for trainer Ray Handal, the 6-year-old son of Mineshaft relished the sloppy and sealed main track, winning his stakes debut in his 34th career start.
Wow Brown broke quickly from the inside post under Michael Davila, Jr. and marked the opening quarter-mile in 21.88 seconds with Foolish Ghost pressuring from second position in front of a stalking trio of Our Last Buck, 2-1 mutuel favorite Wudda U Think Now and Jemography.
Our Last Buck advanced up the rail approaching the turn as Foolish Ghost loomed large outside the pacesetter through a half-mile in 45.02. My Boy Tate found his best foot with an inside rush through the turn, angling off the rail to pass the tiring Wow Brown at the top of the lane, but there was no reeling in Foolish Ghost, who established command out of the turn and kicked on from the middle of the track to secure the win in a final time of 1:16.70.
The Michelle Nevin-trained My Boy Tate completed the exacta by 1 1/2-lengths over stablemate Our Last Buck. Rounding out the order of finish were Morning Breez, Captain Bombastic, Wow Brown, Jemography and Wudda U Think Now. Runningwscissors was scratched.
Handal credited his owners for making the decision to enter Foolish Ghost in the John Morrissey from a front-running score in a six-furlong optional-claiming tilt against open company on July 4 at Monmouth Park.
“Rich Newman and Ken Russell suggested to nominate. It was off about 27 days rest and he’s a horse who has done better with about four-to-six weeks in between races,” Handal said. “So, we entered and saw how we drew. I got Joel and I could not have picked a better rider to suit a horse that’s a runoff type of horse.
“He’s never won off the pace,” Handal added. “There’s only one guy who can do that and that’s Joel. He’s unbelievable at getting horses like him to switch off. He really finished with a ton of run. I can’t believe how strong he came home.”
Rosario, who picked up his second stakes win of the meet, also secured his second consecutive John Morrissey win after guiding Funny Guy to victory in 2020.
“I let him be where he wants. In a muddy track, sometimes that part of the track [outside] is a little better,” Rosario said. “I just tried to stay up there. He was fine today. He was there for me nice. It looked like he handled it really well in the slop.”
Handal said he was pleased to see Foolish Ghost, a $25,000 claim last August at Saratoga, settle and make a run.
“It’s extra special to me. I get on him every day. He was almost untrainable when I first claimed him. He was a stone-cold runoff,” Handal said. “I would take him out after all the riders left my barn. I would take him out right before the track would close at 10:15. I’d jack my irons up and I’d sit against him and he’d rip my guts out for about six times around there, just getting him to relax and got him to learn that this could be fun. It’s just been a great progression. When things like this happen it’s extra special.”
Bred in the Empire State by Pinnacle Farms I LLC, Foolish Ghost banked $55,000 in victory while improving his record to 34-9-7-4. He paid $10.20 for a $2 win ticket.
John Morrissey Replay
Live racing resumes Friday at Saratoga with a 10-race card highlighted by the $120,000 Curlin, a nine-furlong test for sophomores in Race 9 at 5:39 p.m. Eastern. First post is 1:05 p.m.
By Keith McCalmont/NYRA Press Office
Photo: Foolish Ghost, (NYRA)