McCraken to start his second career at Airdrie Stud next year
Son of Ghostzapper was a multiple Graded stakes winner
McCraken, a multiple Graded stakes-winning son of Ghostzapper, has been retired from racing and will stand at Airdrie Stud in Kentucky in 2019.
The Whitham Thoroughbreds homebred was undefeated in three starts at two, when he followed his winning debut with victories in the Street Sense Stakes and Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.
He became a sophomore to watch with a track-record-setting performance in the Grade 3 Sam F Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, in which he beat future Belmont Stakes winner Tapwrit by one and a half lengths.
An ankle twist kept McCraken from a start in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby, and he returned with a third-place finish as the 8-5 favourite in the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland before finishing a troubled eighth in the Kentucky Derby.
He returned to the winner's circle in the Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes and went on to finish second by an agonising nose to Girvin in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational. He was followed home by leading three-year-olds Practical Joke, Battle Of Midway and Irish War Cry.
"Everyone gets excited when a horse is talented enough to do what they really shouldn't be able to do," said Airdrie's Bret Jones. "By anyone's definition, Ghostzapper is one of the best stallions in America, but McCraken remains the only Graded stakes-winning two-year-old son he's ever produced.
"Not only that, but he was a truly dominant, undefeated juvenile that could then train on to be a track-record setter and multiple Graded stakes winner at three.
"His record of six wins in seven starts at a mile and a furlong or less also demonstrates that he's got the miler speed and turn of foot that has been the signature of so many leading sires.
"We really believe he offers our breeders tremendous upside at a very reasonable stud fee for a beautifully bred, exceptionally talented horse that was a nose bob away from winning the Haskell."
McCraken followed the Haskell with placed finishes in the Grade 2 Hagyard Fayette Stakes and the Grade 3 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap. He was retired following an unplaced finish in a sloppy-track Whitney Stakes. He ended his racing career with six wins and four placings out of 14 starts and earned $869,728.
McCraken will stand for $10,000 in 2019.
Bred from a deep family nurtured by Janis Whitham, McCraken is the second foal out of the Seeking The Gold mare Ivory Empress, a young Graded stakes-placed sprinter whose first foal, Bondurant (by War Front), is also Graded stakes-placed. Ivory Empress is out of the Graded stakes-winning and Grade 1-placed Madame Pandit, who is also the dam of Grade 1 winner Mea Domina.
"McCraken was one of the most naturally talented horses I've ever been around, and his turn of foot was second to none," said trainer Ian Wilkes. "He took the Whitham family and our stable on a great ride, and I look forward to training Grade 1 winners by him in the future."
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