11/18/2002 12:00AM

Ghostzapper makes jaws drop


INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- Make room for another top 2-year-old in Bobby Frankel's barn.

Empire Maker, a maiden winner at Belmont Park, has gotten so much attention he even made the cover of a recent Daily Racing Form Simulcast Weekly. Might the same be accorded Ghostzapper?

He certainly earned it. In his debut on Saturday, Ghostzapper turned in the most dominating performance by a 2-year-old colt this season at Hollywood Park. He cruised home nine lengths best in a swift 1:15.57 for 6 1/2 furlongs while being confidently ridden by jockey Jose Valdivia Jr., and getting a 98 Beyer Speed Figure.

The victory was so impressive that Frankel was considering jumping Ghostzapper from that maiden sprint win into the $200,000 Hollywood Futurity at 1 1/16 miles on Dec. 21.

"I hope he's as good as everybody thinks he is," said Frankel, who was deluged by people offering congratulations after Ghostzapper's dazzling race. "There's a chance I'll run him in the Futurity. The thing I like about him is that he broke good, then he eased back to third. He's so cool, this horse. He's nice to saddle. He was no trouble in the paddock."

Ghostzapper got no action in the betting. He went off at 11-1 and paid $25, yet he won like he should have been 2-5.

"My style is not to show them up in the morning," Frankel said. "I thought he was all right, but how do you know? How do you know he's going to run like that?"

Frankel said he expected a big performance when Empire Maker, a son of Unbridled out of the top mare Toussaud, ran first time out, but did not have as strong a line on Ghostzapper.

"I was breezing Empire Maker with older horses," Frankel said. "I had no 2-year-olds to breeze him with. And there was a little more pressure on me for him to do well."

Frankel said he gave the mount on Ghostzapper to Valdivia because "he's been getting on some horses for me."

"Not this one, though," Frankel added. "He had never been on this horse."

Ghostzapper, a son of Awesome Again, is out of the Relaunch mare Baby Zip, making him a half-brother to City Zip, a multiple sprint stakes winner on the East Coast. He was bred and is owned by Frank Stronach.

Ocean Sound makes triumphant return

It took Ocean Sound more than six months to get back to the races after suffering a fractured cannon bone in the Kentucky Derby. The wait was worth it, because he won a first-level allowance race on Saturday. Now, though, trainer Jim Cassidy is faced with the prospect of bringing Ocean Sound back in only two weeks for the Dec. 1 Hollywood Derby, something he would rather avoid.

"We had to wait six months to get him back," Cassidy said. "I don't know that we want to run him twice in two weeks. I'd rather wait for Santa Anita."

Cassidy has plenty of options with Ocean Sound. The colt has won twice on turf, including Saturday's race, but he also has performed well on dirt. He was second in the Rebel Stakes to Windward Passage, and was third in the Blue Grass Stakes to Harlan's Holiday and Booklet. At Santa Anita, Ocean Sound would be eligible for the Strub Series, exclusively for 4-year-olds of 2003.

In the Kentucky Derby, Ocean Sound beat one horse, finishing 17th of 18. But he came out of the race with a fracture to his left front cannon bone. "He didn't need surgery," Cassidy said. "We did do some ultrasound therapy."

Trainer Hansen shifts operations to Fair Grounds

The opportunity to train more horses, coupled with California's high worker's compensation insurance rates, has caused trainer Scott Hansen to leave the state in order to train this winter at Fair Grounds. Hansen will have 15 horses at Fair Grounds, all for Richard Englander, last year's Eclipse Award-winning owner.

"I've got five for him now, and he said he'd fill up the stalls when we get there," Hansen said. "He's been great. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be training. He's a real fun guy to work with. If things work out, I might to go Delaware or Churchill Downs after Fair Grounds ends."

Like many trainers with a handful of horses, Hansen had found the high worker's compensation rates difficult to overcome.

"If they don't get it fixed, there's going to be more people moving out of town," Hansen said. "You can't make a living here. You want to enjoy what you're doing. I don't want to get rich, but I'd like to make a living. My rates are about 34 percent here. They're going to be between 13 and 17 percent there."

o Jockey David Flores has been suspended for three days, beginning Thursday, for the disqualification of his mount Unchain the Stars from a victory in Friday's eighth race.

o Jockey Eddie Delahoussaye, sidelined since an accident at Del Mar, visited the track Sunday morning. "I still need another month of therapy on my neck and back," the 51-year-old Delahoussaye said. "Then I'm supposed to have another MRI or CAT-scan to determine whether I come back or not."

o Frankel has decided to not run Medaglia d'Oro on turf in the Hollywood Derby. He said he will still have Inesperado and Royal Gem in that race. Another 3-year-old, Chiselling, will run against older horses in this Saturday's Grade 1, $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup, Frankel said.

o Rolly Polly's victory in Sunday's Safely Kept Handicap was the 54th stakes win this year for Frankel. Frankel's horses have purse earnings of more than $16.5 million this year. The single-year record for a trainer is $17,842,358, set by D. Wayne Lukas in 1988.

o After complaints from horsemen that the renovation breaks at Hollywood were taking too long because of a shortage of manpower for the tractors, Hollywood Park management agreed to use four tractors during breaks on race days and two on dark days. The track had been using just two tractors every day, meaning each had to make two trips around the main track to renovate a surface that is four tractor widths wide. "Now it takes them 10 minutes instead of 25," said Frankel, who was one of the most outspoken trainers about the situation at a meeting with track management on Saturday.