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Frankel's poor Cup record can't stop Ghostzapper
Bill Finley
Special to

It had been another one of those Breeders' Cup Days for Bobby Frankel, who sat there disgusted in the Lone Star Park stands as one of his horses after another ran like they had clay feet. Snorter was seventh in the first race of the day, a non-Breeders' Cup race called the D.R. Horton Metroplex Mile. Nothing to Lose was 11th in the Mile. Cajun Beat and Midas Eyes both ran up the track in the Sprint. Light Jig was seventh in the Filly & Mare Turf, with stablemate Megahertz trailing behind her in11th.

"I was thinking, well, this is going to be another Breeders' Cup Day," Frankel said. "I hate this thing. I'm not coming back anymore."

But he still had one bullet left to fire and it was a powerful one. Ghostzapper was 3-for-3 this year and his speed figures were off the charts, Secretariat-like stuff. Yet, this was a race he didn't have to win. The wise guys didn't like him. He couldn't get a mile and a quarter, they said, and Roses in May and maybe even Azeri were going to fry him to a crisp, dueling through insane fractions. And could you possibly like any horse trained by Frankel after the day he was having? It was just his latest Breeders' Cup disaster.

He is now 3-for-63 in the Breeders' Cup, a terrible record for anyone, let alone the great Bobby Frankel. But win No. 3 has to be considered one of the great accomplishments of his career.

Just three months ago, Ghostzapper was a sprinter, no closer to the Breeders' Cup Classic than any one of hundreds of other horses over the years who have run in races like the Tom Fool, Vosburgh and King's Bishop. He could have pointed the son of Awesome Again for the Sprint, but Frankel figured this horse was too good for something like that.

"I told everybody 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."

So Ghostzapper shows up in the mile-and-an-eighth Iselin at Monmouth, his first start around two turns, his first try in a route. It was a perfect place to try something new. The Iselin isn't what it used to be and Frankel knew Ghostzapper would win in a way that would boost his confidence.

He had to be feeling pretty good about himself after he won the Iselin by 10 3/4 lengths in 1:47.60. The Beyer figure (128) sent them sifting through the Daily Racing Form archives. No one had ever gotten a bigger figure since the Form began publishing the numbers.

Ghostzapper didn't look quite as good when he won the Sept. 11 Woodward by a neck over St. Liam, but the race came just three weeks after the Iselin. No none could have expected him to run another huge race. Then Frankel put him away, priming him for the big day.

"The way I train, I get my best results if I bring them in fresh," he said. "In my training, that's the way they run the best and the best number. That's why I ran him in the Woodward and gave him seven weeks."

He was bringing in a horse who hadn't run in seven weeks, had never gone a mile and a quarter and was in serious danger of getting caught up in a speed duel. That's why he was 5-2. You couldn't even say he was going to benefit from the Frankel magic. It was Breeders' Cup Day, the day when Frankel, well, stinks.

But Ghostzapper did get the mile and a quarter. And he never got caught up in a speed duel. Frankel told jockey Javier Castellano to get off the rail, which he suspected was a little deep, and put the breaks on. When Ghostzapper led after a half-mile had been run in :47, he was going to be awfully hard to catch.

"If you told me he'd get the half in :47, I'd have told you he was going to win," Frankel said. "But you never really know until you're 20 yards from the wire and three in front. Then you know you're going to win."

For whatever reason, Frankel has had some horrendous moments in the Breeders' Cup. Horses like Flute, Peace Rules, Sightseek, You, were all favorites, all awful. He's got a long way to go before his Breeders' Cup record is no longer a stain on his otherwise glowing reputation. He gave all the credit to Ghostzapper, calling him the best horse he's ever trained. That may be, but this wasn't a one-horse team. The credit has to be shared. Ghostzapper ran hard and fast and Frankel did a marvelous job. The result was the greatest win of his career.



Breeders' Cup Classic results

Classic: Ghostzapper dominates field

Castellano has a day to savor

Azeri's gamble doesn't pay off