01/18/2005 1:00AM

Ghostzapper, 'Smarty' top ranked in '04


Ghostzapper and Smarty Jones are the two highest rated horses of 2004 in the , announced on Tuesday in London.

Their coronations, Ghostzapper as the world's leading older horse and Smarty Jones as the best 3-year-old, mark the first time that American-trained horses have topped both of those lists in the same year. Previously known as the International Classification, the World Thoroughbred Racehorse Rankings are determined by a panel of international handicappers gathered under the auspices of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities.

At 130 Ghostzapper lays claim to the title of the highest rated horse in the world. The Bobby Frankel trainee, owned by Stronach Stable, impressed handicappers with his facile Breeders' Cup Classic victory as well as his astounding performance in the Haskell Invitational. Ghostzapper prevailed amongst 4-year-olds & up by three pounds over Godolphin's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes winner Doyen. Dubai World Cup winner Plaeasntly Perfect was next at 126 with World Cup runner-up Medaglia d'Oro fourth at 124.

In fact, Americans took seven of the first eleven places in the older horse category. Rated at 123, the Brazilian-bred Pico Central took honors as the world's highest rated sprinter. He shares that mark with Queen Elizabeth II Stakes winner Rakti, Breeders' Cup Classic runner-up and Whitney Handicap winner Roses in May, Juddmonte International and Canadian International winner Sulamani, Pimlico Special victor Southern Image, Breeders' Cup Sprint champ Speighstown, and Zenno Rob Roy, the Japanese-trained Japan Cup winner who is the highest rated horse outside of Europe and North America.

That is a reflection of a weak group of older horses in Europe, although Soviet Song did manage to rate as the leading older filly or mare at 119 by dint of her victory over colts in the Sussex Stakes. Azeri was the top American older filly or mare at 118.

Hard Buck, second in both the Dubai Sheema Classic and the King George, is America's top rated older turf horse at 120, a mark he shares with Powerscourt.

Smarty Jones parlayed his sensational spring into a 128 rating as the world's best 3-year-old. The victories of Someday Farm's John Servis trainee in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness pegged him two pounds ahead of the Niarchos Family's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Bago (126) who, in turn, is one pound ahead of Arc runner-up Cherry Mix. Haafhd received a 124 mark for his win in the 1 1/4-mile Champion Stakes and was also rated at 122 for his 2000 Guineas victory.

By comparison with Smarty Jones, Irish Derby winner Grey Swallow is rated 123, while Epsom Derby champ North Light checks in at 122.

Kitten's Joy is the leading American 3-year-old on turf. His victory in the Turf Classic was awarded a mark of 122, good enough to make him the American turf champ at any age. Birdstone, conqueror of Smarty Jones in the Belmont Stakes, is the second best American 3-year-old on dirt at 120, a rating he shares with the world's highest ranking filly at any age, Ouija Board, the winner of the English Oaks, the Irish Oaks and the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Breeder's Cup Distaff winner Ashado is the leading American 3-year-old filly at 117, one pound behind three-time Group 1 mile winner Attraction.

Shamardal, at 123, landed a juvenile championship which is inclusive of European-trained horses only. The Giant's Causeway colt is rated one pound better than both his Godolphin stablemate Dubawi and the Aidan O'Brien-trained Ad Valorem. Breeders' Cup Juvenile champ Wilko rates fifth at 119. Divine Proportions, trained by Pascal Bary for the Niarchos Family, is the leading 2-year-old filly at 117.

Shamardal's title coincides with a report in Tuesday's Times of London that Godolphin is considering their champion 2-year-old for the Kentucky Derby. If Shamardal acquits himself well in his initial gallops on dirt at Godolphin's Al Quoz training center, he would be pointed to the UAE Derby on Dubai World Cup night, March 26.