Breeders' Cup title zapped up

Posted: Sunday, October 31, 2004

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas Bobby Frankel had a simple explanation for Ghostzapper's record-setting win in the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic.

''He's just faster,'' the trainer said after Ghostzapper cruised to victory over a stellar field that included defending champion Pleasantly Perfect, Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone and the great mare Azeri.

Frankel, who had just two wins with 62 Breeders' Cup starters before the Classic, saddled the beaten favorite the past three years Medaglia d'Oro in 2002-03 and Aptitude in 2001.

This time, his favorite didn't fail. Ridden by Javier Castellano, the 4-year-old colt sprung from the gate and was in control all the way around Lone Star Park, winning by three lengths over Roses in May.

Ghostzapper, a sprinter when he began his career, covered the 1 1/4 miles in 1:59.02, bettering the Classic record of 1:59.16 set by Skip Away in 1997 at Hollywood Park.

Azeri was a non-threatening fifth in a 13-horse field considered the deepest in the 21-year history of the Breeders' Cup. Pleasantly Perfect was third, Birdstone was seventh and Funny Cide was 10th.

With a perfect 4-for-4 season, Frankel said Ghostzapper is a cinch for Horse of the Year.

''It's a no brainer,'' Frankel said. ''Handicap horse of the year, Horse of the Year.''

Smarty Jones, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner who was retired in August, appears to have the inside track on Horse of the Year.

Castellano was a winner in his first Breeders' Cup race.

''I had all the confidence in the world,'' Castellano said. ''He broke well, and Bobby said it was OK to take him a little bit off the rail. There was no question he could go wire to wire.''

Ghostzapper was moved to longer distances this year, and Frankel's decision paid off. The lightly raced son of Awesome Again won the Iselin Handicap and the Woodward Stakes, both at 1 1/8 miles, and the trainer was confident his colt could go even farther.

''He ran the way I thought he would,'' Frankel said. ''This is as big a win as I've had in my career.''

The buildup to the Classic took on even more intrigue when Azeri was entered by trainer D. Wayne Lukas. A few days before the race, Frankel dismissed Azeri, saying the only way she could win is if the gate didn't open for the other 12 horses.

''We took our shot,'' Lukas said. ''She ran hard and beat a lot of them.''

Said Nick Zito, Birdstone's trainer: ''At this track, you have to be closer to the pace, which is not his style. It's been a beautiful season. I'm proud of him.''

Perfect Drift was fourth, followed by Azeri, Personal Rush, Birdstone, Dynever, Fantasticat, Funny Cide, Bowman's Band, Newfoundland and Freefourinternet.

Ghostzapper is owned by Magna Entertainment Corp. chairman Frank Stronach, who operates Lone Star Park and owns Santa Anita and Gulfstream.

The winner paid $7, $4 and $3.60. Roses in May, ridden by John Velazquez, paid $8.20 and $5.20, and Pleasantly Perfect, with Jerry Bailey aboard, returned $3 to show.

''I couldn't ever get him settled,'' said Bailey, who had three second-place finishes and two thirds on the day. ''And I got hung wide on both turns.''

Ghostzapper earned $2,080,000 and boosted his earnings to $2,996,120 on eight victories in 10 career starts.

In the other Breeders' Cup races, trainer Todd Pletcher ended an 0-for-12 run with two winners, Ashado in the $2 million Distaff, and Speightstown in the $1 million Sprint; and there were three major upsets: 17-1 long shot Singletary won the $1.54 million Mile; 28-1 shot Wilko took the $1.37 million Juvenile; and 28-1 choice Better Talk Now won the $1.83 million Turf after surviving a foul claim.

Also, Sweet Catomine captured the $1 million Juveniles Fillies, and Ouija Board took the $1.29 million Filly & Mare Turf.


Ashado, the 2-1 favorite, gave Pletcher his first Breeders' Cup victory and likely earned the Eclipse Award as 3-year-old female champion.

Ashado grabbed the lead in the stretch and beat Storm Flag Flying by 1 1/4 lengths. Stellar Jayne was third.

Juvenile Fillies

Sweet Catomine clinched the 2-year-old female championship by overcoming traffic problems on the turn for home and posting a 3 3/4-length win over Balletto.

The 2-1 favorite paid $6.60 to win.


Singletary held off Antonius Pius by a half-length for the upset, returning $35 to win.

Named for former Chicago Bears linebacker Mike Singletary, the 4-year-old colt gave jockey David Flores a win in his only mount of the day. Purchased for only $3,200, Singletary earned $873,600 to boost his career earnings to $1,439,732 for the 15 partners of Little Red Feather Racing.

''It doesn't get any better than this,'' winning trainer Don Chatlos said. ''Here I am, just a poor kid from the South Side of Chicago, where there aren't any horses, on top of the world!''


Speightstown ($9.40) took control in the stretch and beat Kela by 1 1/4 lengths.

However, the champion sprinter will likely be Pico Central, who beat Speightstown in the Vosburgh at Belmont and did not run in the Breeders' Cup.

Filly & Mare Turf

Ouija Board, the 9-10 favorite, scored by 1 1/2 lengths over Film Maker.

Winner of the Irish and English Oaks, the 3-year-old filly owned by Lord Derby was third in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in her previous start.


European invader Wilko stole the show from Derby-driven trainers Bob Baffert, Lukas and Zito: The colt upset Baffert's 2-1 favorite Roman Ruler, Zito's Sun King and Lukas' Consolidator in the race that usually determines the early Kentucky Derby favorite.

Wilko ($58.60) beat Afleet Alex by three-quarters of a length. Sun King was third, Consolidator fourth and Roman Ruler fifth in the 1 1-16th-mile race.


Another huge upset, with 28-1 long shot Better Talk Now ($57.80) surviving a foul claim for a 1 3/4-length win over odds-on favorite Kitten's Joy.

Better Talk Now gave Ramon Dominguez his first Breeders' Cup win.

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