08/20/2004 11:00PM

Distance can't stop Ghostzapper

Ghostzapper, making his first start beyond seven furlongs, wins the Philip Iselin Handicap by 10 3 /4 lengths.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Two turns was not an obstacle for Ghostzapper as he powered to a 10 3/4-length victory in the steady rain to take the 69th running of the Grade 3, $200,000 on Saturday at Monmouth Park.

Ghostzapper ($2.80), venturing beyond seven furlongs for the first time in his career, ran the 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.66 over a sloppy track.

Trainer Bobby Frankel viewed the Iselin as the first step on the road to the Breeders' Cup Classic.

"I'm thinking about the mile and a quarter," said Frankel. "I think he's a top class horse. I think I'll try him in the Woodward [at Belmont Park] and then the Breeders' Cup."

Ghostzapper carried top weight of 120 pounds to his sixth win in eight career starts. He was never far off the pace set by Presidentialaffair, who got the early jump out of the gate.

Presidentialaffair, second in the weights at 117 pounds, dictated the pace as expected. He had won six of his previous nine starts at Monmouth and was determined to throw down the challenge to Ghostzapper.

Jockey Javier Castellano let Ghostzapper settle in second right behind an ambitious pace set by Presidentialaffair with Stewart Elliott aboard.

"I wanted to stay close to the pace," said Castellano. "I saw in the earlier races that the ones on the lead never came back."

Ghostzapper started to roll midway on the final turn and steadily pulled away in the lane.

"He was always in the race," said Castellano. "He always wanted to go. When I saw Stewart Elliott start riding his horse at the quarter pole, I had plenty of horse and felt I would win the race."

It was far back to the battle for third as Zoffinger nosed out Private Lap in the four-horse field.

The field was reduced with the scratches of Country Be Gold, Sherpa Guide, and Colita.

Martin Ciresa, the trainer of Presidentialaffair, felt the weight spread of three pounds was unfair and strongly weighed the Grade 2 Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap as an Iselin alternative.

He still felt that way after the race.

"He ran his heart out," said Ciresa. "We didn't get enough weight."

* Richetta ($4.20) scored a front-running victory in the $60,000 Twin Lights Stakes for 3-year-old fillies that moved off the turf. She ran the 1 1/8 miles in slop in 1:51.77 with Eibar Coa riding for trainer Robin Graham.