03/12/2005 12:00AM

Ghostzapper looks good working


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Ghostzapper has spent his winter in the relative anonymity of the Palm Meadows training center, quietly gearing up for a defense of his Horse of the Year title in 2005. After working six furlongs in 1:13.95 under his regular rider, Javier Castellano, on Saturday morning, Ghostzapper gives every indication he's just about ready to race and will be just as tough to beat this year as he was during his championship campaign.

Ghostzapper was perfect in four starts in 2004, capping off his award-winning campaign with an easy victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Trainer Bobby Frankel let Ghostzapper gear down a bit following the Breeders' Cup but he has been working regularly at the training center since late January with Saturday's work his sixth over the past seven weeks, all with Castellano aboard.

"He did it so easy this morning," Castellano said shortly after returning to the barn. "He's been the same way every time. His stride is so smooth you feel like you're just galloping out there, not working. I've never felt anything like it before."

Ghostzapper had originally been scheduled to work on Wednesday but heavy rains forced the move to be postponed three days.

"We were only supposed to go five furlongs this morning but he was so tough in the beginning I let him get started a little early," said Castellano. "His work was super and his gallop out was great."

Ghostzapper galloped out seven furlongs in 1:26.24.

Frankel has earmarked the Grade 2 Oaklawn Park Handicap on April 9 for Ghostzapper's 2005 debut.

Sun King sharpens for Tampa Derby

Palm Meadows has also been the winter home of trainer Nick Zito's top Kentucky Derby prospect Sun King, who worked five furlongs in 59.40 seconds on Saturday with exercise rider Maxine Correa aboard. The move was the fastest of 24 at the distance and Sun King's final prep for Saturday's Grade 3 Tampa Derby.

"The work was very nice, exactly what I wanted," said Zito. "He went along smoothly. He has a way of just floating out there."

Sun King, one of the leaders of his division at 2 after third-place finishes in the Grade 1 Champagne and Breeders' Cup Juvenile, launched his 3-year-old campaign in impressive fashion with an easy 5 3/4-length entry-level allowance victory going a mile here on Feb. 26.

"I just wanted to work him once going into the Tampa Bay Derby because his last was such a tremendous race," said Zito. "What I need to do now is to get him to the Blue Grass the right way. Hopefully he'll run well again but won't have too tough a race at Tampa. Then we should be okay."

Zito's list of Kentucky Derby hopefuls grew to five here Saturday following Bellamy Road's scintillating 15 3/4-length victory in a second-level allowance race. Bellamy Road covered a mile in 1:35.90, just .02 off the course record set by his stablemate, High Fly, in the Aventura Stakes on Jan. 8.

Bellamy Road won 2 of his 3 starts at 2, including the Grade 3 Cradle at River Downs but had not started since finishing a tiring seventh as the favorite in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity on Oct. 9. He was transferred from trainer Michael Dickinson to Zito's barn earlier this winter.

"Michael did a great job getting him fit and he ran like a good horse today," said Zito. "I expected him to run big but not like this. I'm real excited about him."

Zito said he was uncertain what would be next for Bellamy Road but indicated the Wood Memorial on April 10 remains a possibility.

In addition to Sun King, Bellamy Road, and High Fly, Zito's 3-year-olds also include Andromeda's Hero and Noble Causeway.

Two options for Gygistar

Trainer Mark Hennig wanted to give his Grade 1 winner Gygistar a confidence booster to launch his 2005 season, and he found the perfect spot, a money allowance race that served as Friday's feature. Hennig got exactly what he was looking for as Gygistar drew away to an easy 5 1/2-length victory over seven outclassed rivals under jockey John Velazquez.

Gygistar won once in 12 starts in 2004, his lone victory coming in Belmont's Grade 3 Westchester Handicap. He also ran well enough to finish third in the Grade 1 Forego, Grade 2 Meadowlands Breeders' Cup, and Grade 3 Sport Page, and fourth in both the Grade 1 Carter and Metropolitan handicaps.

"I just felt at the end of last year he was probably a little frustrated and so were we," said Hennig. "So I brought him back to Payson Park for the winter where he's always done so well. In fact I don't think he's ever lost a race out of there. And I thought I should give him a little break and get his confidence back the first time out."

Hennig said he's undecided what will be next for Gygistar, although he indicated he will likely run once more before shipping north during the spring.

"I'll take a look at the Artax and Skip Away handicaps and see how they shape up and will likely run him in one or the other," said Hennig.

The Artax is carded at 7 1/2 furlongs while the Skip Away will be decided at 1 1/8 miles. Both races will be run on the undercard for the Florida Derby on April 2.