SHAMAN Ghost (Javier Castellano) surged to a victory in a four-horse photo finish on Saturday and beat Mubtaahij by a head to steal the $600,000, Grade 1 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga Racecourse.

Dual Grade 1 winner Frosted, one of the highest-rated horses in the world and favoured at 2-5 in the field of nine, broke slowly and was all-out at the end but finished only third by a head.

Shaman Ghost picked up his first G1 win. The 4-year-old son of Ghostzapper took the Gr2 Brooklyn Invitational Stakes in June at Belmont Park, but came down with an illness and was a flat fifth on July 9 in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap, his start before the Woodward.

Mubtaahij, nearest camera, almost got there!
Mubtaahij, nearest camera, almost got there from the widest of draws!

“The last race was a little disappointing,” winning trainer Jimmy Jerkens said. “After the Brooklyn, he came down with a little bit of a nagging cough. It took him a while to get over it. It looked like he was training good up to it, and then was a little flat in the Suburban. The rail was pretty deep that day and he was stuck on it all the way around. I think a combination of the two, he got beat six lengths.

Kiaran McLaughlin, who trains Frosted and Mubtaahij, thought the way the race unfolded cost the powerful grey. He would not be drawn on plans for Frosted, who also has the option of the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at North America’s premier meeting where California Chrome heads the betting for the main race at around 6-4 with British bookmakers.

Next up for Shaman Ghost is the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont on October 8 where Mubtaahij could reoppose. Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum’s runner will be returning to Mike de Kock in Dubai and the Gold Cup will probably be his last chance for a win on American soil this season.

Photo credit: Eclipse Sportswire.

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