05/22/2005 11:00PM

Ghostzapper on deck


ELMONT, N.Y. - Practice is over, it's now time to play.

Defending Horse of the Year Ghostzapper completed his preparation for his 2005 debut in next Monday's Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap by working six furlongs in 1:13.24 Monday morning over Belmont Park's main track. The $750,000 Met Mile will be Ghostzapper's first start since he won the Breeders' Cup Classic last Oct. 30, capping an undefeated (4-for-4) season.

Trainer Bobby Frankel moved Ghostzapper's work up one day fearing that forecasted overnight showers might make for a bad track on Tuesday morning. After the renovation break Monday, Belmont's main track still had some moisture in it, but was labeled good.

With regular rider Javier Castellano aboard, Ghostzapper began his work from the five-furlong marker and completed it a furlong past the finish line. Ghostzapper went relatively easily, though he threw in a second quarter in 22.20 seconds, much quicker than his final quarter, timed in 26.40 seconds.

"I'm not worried about how he worked as long as the jock's happy with him,'' Frankel said. "He feels he's sound, and he's happy with him. That's all I care about. He's worked him a hundred times.''

Ghostzapper, who is 4 for 4 at Belmont, was assigned 123 pounds for the Met Mile, one more than possible starter Saint Liam. Others pointing to the race, and their weight assignments, are: Forest Danger (118), Medallist (116), Sir Shackleton (116), Pomeroy (115), and Silver Wagon (114). Swingforthefences (114) is a possible starter.

On Monday, Sir Shackleton worked five furlongs in 1:01.24. He broke on even terms with stablemate Irish Bulldog and drew away inside the furlong marker to win the work by five lengths. Sir Shackleton, trained by Nick Zito, is 2 for 2 at one mile. He is coming off a fourth-place finish in the Churchill Downs Handicap on Derby Day.

No Belmont for First Word

Frankel said he would not run First Word in the Belmont Stakes, despite the colt's impressive five-length victory Sunday in an entry-level allowance race here.

"There's a lot of races coming up,'' said Frankel, who mentioned the Dwyer on July 4 as a possible stakes debut for the Juddmonte Farms-owned colt. "He might be the second-half-of-the-year 3-year-old, when everybody else is beat up a little bit after going 15 rounds. You don't have to be the best, you just have to be the one that lasts the longest.''

First Word, a son of Chester House out of the stakes-winning mare Harpia, rated just off the pace in the early stages of Sunday's race. He took the lead at the quarter pole and drew clear while being hand-ridden all the way by Jerry Bailey. First Word covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.97 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 91.

"He won easy," Frankel said "I don't know what he beat."

Belmont a possibility for Watchmon

Watchmon, who finished second to First Word, is under consideration for the Belmont Stakes, trainer Pat Reynolds said.

Reynolds believes that Watchmon, a son of Maria's Mon, will appreciate the 1 1/2 miles of that race whereas others in the field may not.

"With the exception of that gutsy horse that won the Preakness,'' Reynolds said, referring to Afleet Alex, "there hasn't been a standout 3-year-old in the bunch. Distance is not the question. Class is the question. So far, we know we have a horse that can stay, that likes to run, and that's consistent.''

Watchmon won an off-the turf maiden race at Gulfstream and was fourth in the Federico Tesio at Pimlico after encountering trouble, Reynolds said.

Chekhov heads Peter Pan probables

Chekhov, the $3.3 million 2-year-old in-training purchase who won his maiden by 8 1/2 lengths here May 8, heads the list of 3-year-olds pointing to Saturday's Peter Pan Stakes. Since 1992, the Peter Pan has produced Belmont winners A.P. Indy, Colonial Affair, and Lemon Drop Kid.

Others pointing to the Peter Pan, run at 1 1/8 miles, are Golden Man, Mr Sword, Oratory, Reverberate, Robador, and Survivalist. Better Than Bonds is a possibility.

On Monday, Survivalist, the only graded stakes winner pointing to the Peter Pan, worked four furlongs in 47.68 seconds over Belmont's main track, while Reverberate covered the same distance in 47.82 seconds. At Aqueduct, Golden Man went five furlongs in 1:02.45. Golden Man was excluded from the Preakness because of insufficient career earnings.

Brooklyn maybe next for Funny Cide

Fans may get to see two Kentucky Derby winners run on the same card on June 11.

While this year's Kentucky Derby winner, Giacomo, is being pointed to the Belmont Stakes, the 2003 Kentucky Derby winner, Funny Cide, is likely to make his next start in the $250,000 Brooklyn Handicap on the same day. Funny Cide ran fourth in Friday's Pimlico Special, his first start in seven months.

"That's an option,'' said Robin Smullen, assistant to trainer Barclay Tagg. "He seems to have come out of the race fine. He just doesn't like the mud.''

By running in the Brooklyn, Funny Cide would not have to ship. In fact, with the Breeders' Cup being held at Belmont this year, Funny Cide might not have to leave New York for the remainder of the year. Such races as the Suburban, Saratoga Breeders' Cup, and Jockey Club Gold Cup are all spots Funny Cide might run in before the Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 29.

If Funny Cide runs in the Brooklyn, one of his opponents figures to be Zakocity, winner of Saturday's William Donald Schaefer Handicap at Pimlico. Gygistar, winner of the Westchester Handicap on opening day, is another with designs on the Brooklyn.

Sir Walter Rahy has edge on turf

Wednesday's $50,000 third-level allowance feature is scheduled for a mile on the grass. If the race remains on the turf, Sir Walter Rahy is the one to beat in a race that also has an optional claiming tag of $75,000. Sir Walter Rahy is in for the tag.

If it rains and the race is moved to the dirt, Love of Money, winner of last fall's Pennsylvania Derby, would be the one to beat.