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Jun 03, 2005

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


            With half the year over and the big Summer and Fall races still on the

 horizon we may have already seen the Horse of the Year, and he has only

 run once. GHOSTZAPPER, last year’s Horse of the Year returned to the races

at Belmont on May 30th, 2005 in the Grade I Metropolitan Mile. His return to the

 races was delayed a bit by a sinus infection and his trainer Bobby Frankel thought

 he had him about 90% fit for the race. This would be a problem for most horses

 but this horse is not most horses.

            After sitting in third early on behind the pacesetters LOVE OF MONEY

and FOREST DANGER, he made a quick move to the lead and opened up eight

lengths heading into the stretch and won the race by a geared down six and a

 quarter lengths. The time of the race was 1:33:1 but could have been much

 fast as jockey Javier Castellano never asked him to run. SILVER WAGON

closed to finish a clear second at 35-1 with SIR SHACKLETON closing to get

 up for third at 17-1. POMEROY, FOREST DANGER and LOVE OF MONEY

rounded out the field. FOREST DANGER who was sent off as the 2-1 second

choice was trying to get out the whole race, drifting out badly on the turn. His

trainer Todd Pletcher said they ran some tests on him but have not come up

with any reasons so far for why that happened.

            GHOSTZAPPER has a tentative schedule the rest of the year with

his campaign expected to end in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Belmont on

October 29th, 2005. If he wins out he will named champion older horse and

Horse of the Year. Frankel also said that he was thinking that maybe ending

 his career on the turf, maybe in the Japan Cup, similar to how SECRETARIAT

 ended his career with a win on the turf. I don’t know if we can put this horse

 in Big Red’s league just yet but he has proven that he could win from

distances of six furlongs to 1 and ¼ miles. He has tactical speed but he can

 go to the lead or come from way back to win his races.

            Another issue that should be mentioned here is the fact that

GHOSTZAPPER is still running. As a 5YO it is very rare to see horses running

 at this age unless they are geldings. Owner Frank Stronach should be given

credit for bringing this horse back to the races when he could have easily retired

 him to stud. The racing game loses its stars too quickly these days whether it

 be to injury or to the breeding shed and the fact that the best horse in the

world has returned to the races is a credit to his owner. The racing fans should

 come out every time he runs because we haven’t seen an attraction like this

since CIGAR. A buzz every time the horse runs, fans just going to see him

 run, being able to say I was there when GHOSTZAPPER ran. With a limited

campaign GHOSTZAPPER should be able to stay fresh and it would hard

 pressed to find anyone that could compete with him right now.

ROSES IN MAY and SAINT LIAM would have to be considered the top two

 horses that could challenge GHOSTZAPPER. However, GHOSTZAPPER has

 defeated them both and it seems that he has come back as a better horse this

 year based on his Metropolitan performance. The jury is still out on the three

 year old division but it would have to take a huge performance to defeat

GHOSTZAPPER.

            Remember this is a special horse, a horse that we have not seen in a

while and one that we may not see for a long time. Show him your respect

and go out and watch him race, watch him make history and make your

comparisons to champions from years past, after all isn’t that what this game is about.



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