First-year Kentucky stallion McCraken was a brilliant racehorse and is the most precocious son of Ghostzapper to come along, which we think makes him an excellent candidate for sire success — he will be the first mate for the two-time winner Another Secret in our latest Housatonic Recommended Mating.
McCraken started his unbeaten juvenile campaign with a debut victory going 6-1/2 furlongs at Churchill Downs, then came back to earn TDN Rising Star status with a 7-wide move to take the Street Sense Stakes at a mile, and wrapped up his campaign with an impressive and professional victory in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes to put himself on the Triple Crown trail for trainer Ian Wilkes.
McCraken boosted his record to four-for-four in his sophomore debut when he set a new track record in taking the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa over eventual Belmont winner Tapwrit, a performance that moved McCraken to the top of the 3-year-old class and made him the favored horse in the next pool of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager. Unfortunately, McCraken had to miss his next intended start in the Tampa Bay Derby, and then suffered his first defeat when 3rd in the Grade 2 Blue Grass at Keeneland. He was 8th in the Kentucky Derby as the fourth choice, but bounced back to the winners’ circle in the 1-1/16 mile, Grade 3 Matt Winn as the 1-5 favorite. A heart-breaking nose loss to Girvin in the Grade 1 Haskell followed that effort (ahead of Practical Joke, Irish War Cry and Battle of Midway), and after a 7th in the Travers, McCraken closed out his 3-year-old campaign with a 3rd against older horses in Keeneland’s Grade 2 Fayette.
Returning at 4, McCraken took a one mile allowance to kick things off, then sandwiched disappointing performances in the Grade 1 Met Mile and Whitney around a 3rd in the Grade 3 Cornhusker Handicap before his retirement to Airdrie was announced, having won six of 14 starts, for $869,728 in earnings.
As mentioned above, McCraken is a son of the Horse of the Year and leading sire Ghostzapper, and raced as a homebred for Janis Whitham. Although Ghostzapper and his own sire Awesome Again are seen as more classic-type influences, as is McCraken’s broodmare sire Seeking the Gold, McCraken showed himself likely best at distances not much further than a mile — which bothers us not at all, since conventional wisdom is that ‘milers make the best sires.’
This also fits Another Secret perfectly, as she scored her two wins at 7 furlongs and a mile, respectively, while her sire, Tizdejavu, scored his biggest victory at a mile in the Grade 2 Firecracker.
Tizdejavu is a son of Tiznow, which is what initially drew us to McCraken for Another Secret — Awesome Again has had excellent results with mares by Tiznow’s sire Cee’s Tizzy, including Preakness-G1 winner Oxbow and Haskell-G1 winner Paynter, who are both out of full-sisters to Tiznow, while this year’s Risen Star-G2 winner (and five-time Grade 1-placed) Bravazo is by Awesome Again out of a Cee’s Tizzy mare as well. Given that Ghostzapper is out of a Relaunch daughter, and Relaunch is also the sire of Cee’s Tizzy, the foal from this mating will be inbred 4×5 (sex-balanced) to that tail-male conduit of Man o’ War’s line.
Another reason that we like McCraken for Another Secret is that her dam, Cosmic Secrets, is a half-sister to a Grade 3 winner and to a stakes-placed winner that are both by the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Classic-G1 winner Wild Again, who appears as the sire of McCraken’s second dam.
Physically, McCraken is medium-sized and extremely well-balanced, much like both Ghostzapper and Awesome Again, and he will be a nice like-to-like match for Another Secret on that front as well.
McCraken sets a track record in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis