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American thoroughbred Ghostzapper son of Awesome Again, never raced more than four times in any of his four seasons yet in the brief time he spent on the racetrack, Ghostzapper had few - if any - peers.

In 2004 when he was named Horse of the Year, he was an undefeated graded stakes winner.

“He handled any kind of racetrack, and you couldn’t take a race away from him,” Ghostzapper’s trainer, the late Bobby Frankel stated. “If they wanted to go too fast, he could come from last. If they were going slow, he’d go right to the lead. How do you beat a horse like that?”

In 11 starts Ghostzapper won nine times and earned $3,446,120 USD in a career that was rewarded in 2012 with a spot in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

A homebred son of Awesome Again, Ghostzapper raced under the banner of owner Frank Stronach’s Stronach Stables and made his career debut as a two-year-old at Hollywood Park in November 2002, notching a nine-length victory.

In his second start, an allowance race at Santa Anita, Ghostzapper was squeezed back at the start and finished a disappointing fourth.

He started his three-year-old campaign with an impressive victory at Belmont Park and a half-length victory at Saratoga followed, but then in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop, Ghostzapper dropped back to 10th in the field of 13 and had to rally six wide. The ground loss came back to haunt him as he wound up third, denied by a pair of heads from claiming his first stakes win.
Ghostzapper returned in September and tackled older horses in the Grade 1 Vosburgh Stakes. In an indication of what was to come in 2004, he romped to victory.

Minor foot injuries ended his season and prevented him from running in the Breeders’ Cup, but when he finally brushed those ailments aside and resumed racing in July of 2004, he was better than ever.

He started with a win in the Grade 2 Tom Fool Handicap, covering the seven furlongs in 1:20.42, only missing the track record by .46 seconds.
Though Ghostzapper seemed destined to be the year’s Champion Sprinter, Frankel had much bigger plans for him – namely the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Given his first chance at two turns, Ghostzapper responded with a monstrous 10 ¾-length victory in the Grade 3 Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park, falling short of a track record by .86 seconds.

A hard-fought victory by a neck over Saint Liam (who would win the 2005 Breeders’ Cup Classic) in the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes vaulted Ghostzapper to the top of the older male division.

Frankel, who passed away in 2009, targeted the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Lone Star Park next, and some wondered if the mile-and-a-quarter distance would be too demanding for a horse with such a brilliant turn of speed.
The field included 2003 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Pleasantly Perfect and both he and Ghostzapper were sent off as co-favourites.

It turned out to be a mismatch. Taking the lead at the start under jockey Javier Castellano, Ghostzapper cruised along on the front end and then pulled away in the stretch to win by three lengths over Roses in May, with Pleasantly Perfect another four lengths back in third.

“I told everyone, this was the best horse I ever trained,” Frankel said. “I know he had to go out and show it. In my heart, I always felt that way.”
The final time was 1:59.02, which still stands as a record for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

“Ghostzapper is a super horse,” said Dale Romans, who trained Roses in May. “He may be the best horse we've seen in a long time. We picked a bad year to have a top horse for the Classic.”

After securing just his third Breeders’ Cup win in 63 tries, Frankel was certain Ghostzapper had done enough to be named Horse of the Year, even though earlier in the year Smarty Jones had won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness before finishing second in the Belmont Stakes. “He's a dream horse, and possibly a super horse.”

When the Eclipse Awards were announced, the Hall of Fame trainer was proven correct as Ghostzapper was named Horse of the Year and the champion older male.

Frankel brought Ghostzapper back to the races at five and the son of Awesome Again romped in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap.
Unfortunately, Ghostzapper suffered an ankle injury in the Met Mile and Stronach and Frankel decided to retire their champion.

Ghostzapper may not have had the longest career, but few put their time on the racetrack to use as brilliantly as he did.

#KyBred #KentuckyBred


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