03/31/2005 12:00AM

Ghostzapper to miss start


ARCADIA, Calif. - Ghostzapper, the reigning Horse of the Year, will miss an intended start in the $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap on April 9 after being found to have a sinus infection earlier this week.

His trainer, Bobby Frankel, said the illness is not a major concern and that Ghostzapper may start in the $150,000 Ben Ali Handicap over 1 1/8 miles at Keeneland on April 28 as a prep to his next major goal, the Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park on May 30.

"He'll be fine. He just had a sinus infection," Frankel said. "We treated him with antibiotics. He's had the Met Mile as a long-range plan. Maybe I can get a race into him before that; maybe it will be the Ben Ali."

Ghostzapper would have been a short-priced favorite in the Oaklawn Handicap in an attempt to give Frankel his third consecutive victory in the Arkansas track's top race for older horses. Frankel won the 2003 Oaklawn Handicap with Medaglia d'Oro and last year with Peace Rules.

Ghostzapper trained at Palm Meadows training center in south Florida this winter and shipped to Churchill Downs March 25.

Owned by Frank Stronach, Ghostzapper has not started since winning the Breeders' Cup Classic at Lone Star Park last October. The victory clinched titles for Horse of the Year and champion older male for 2004.

A winner of 8 of 10 starts and $2,996,120, Ghostzapper was undefeated in four starts last year, all in stakes, ranging from seven furlongs to 1 1/4 miles.

He won the Tom Fool Handicap at Belmont, the Iselin Breeders' Cup Handicap at Monmouth Park, the Woodward Stakes at Belmont Park and the Breeders' Cup Classic.