Updated on 09/17/2011 6:30PM

Ghostzapper survives dogfight

Ghostzapper (left) inches ahead of Saint Liam in the dramatic stretch drive of Saturday's Woodward Stakes.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Ghostzapper may have shown as much winning Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 by a neck as he did winning previous stakes by open lengths.

Facing a stern challenge from Saint Liam from the quarter pole to the wire, Ghostzapper prevailed to win the Woodward and put himself in contention for Horse of the Year honors. It was 9 1/4 lengths back to Bowman's Band in third.

Ghostzapper is now 3 for 3 this year with victories in the Tom Fool, Iselin Handicap, and Woodward. He would have to win a race like the Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 30 at Lone Star Park to have a shot at Horse of the Year. But the adversity he overcame in the Woodward only adds to his credentials.

Ghostzapper, under Javier Castellano, was in the hunt from the outset, racing between Presidentialaffair and Saint Liam through an opening quarter in 23.66 seconds and a half-mile run in 45.70.

Around the far turn, Ghostzapper and Saint Liam put away Presidentialaffair and were well clear of the rest of the field. At the three-eighths pole, it looked like Ghostzapper was going to run past Saint Liam, but the latter was relentless.

Coming into the stretch, Saint Liam began to bear out under Edgar Prado, forcing Ghostzapper well out into the middle of the track. Saint Liam

continued to fight on, however, maintaining a head advantage at the eighth pole. He continued to bear out, though, and bumped with Ghostzapper.

Ghostzapper persevered and surged to the front nearing the wire. Ghostzapper, who returned $2.80 as the 2-5 favorite, covered the 1 1/8-miles in 1:46.38. Forego owns the stakes record of 1:45.80.

Ghostzapper, owned by Frank Stronach, had won his previous three graded stakes by an average of seven lengths. Even Frankel wasn't sure how he would react when Ghostzapper got into a dogfight.

"You wonder because he's always won his races easy, but he fought on today, he ran a great race," Frankel said.

Prado said he had to take a hold of Saint Liam to try and stop him from bearing out, "and I think that cost me the race," Prado said.

Ghostzapper is now 4 for 4 at Belmont Park, which may prompt Frankel to run him back in the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup here on Oct. 2.