08/24/2004 11:00PM

Ghostzapper's 128 is legit


PHILADELPHIA - There is little argument that Pleasantly Perfect is the most accomplished North American horse in training. That does not, however, make him the fastest.

There can be no argument that Ghostzapper is the fastest horse in the country. In fact, Ghostzapper is officially the fastest horse since Daily Racing Form began publishing Beyer Speed Figures in 1992.

Ghostzapper's 128 Beyer in the Aug. 21 Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park is the best ever published. Since the Beyer team began compiling figures in the mid-1980's, only one horse has ever gotten a better Beyer. In 1987, the great sprinter Groovy broke the 130 barrier twice while winning consecutive New York stakes. He got figures of 133 and 132.

The best sustained Beyer performances since 1992 were compiled by Formal Gold in August and September of 1997. He got a 126 when losing by a nose to Will's Way in the Whitney, followed by 124 in winning the Iselin and a 125 in his Woodward victory. In those three races, he beat Skip Away by a combined 17 1/4 lengths.

The sprinter Artax got figures of 124, 123, and 123 during his championship season of 1999. Smarty Jones's sire, Elusive Quality, got the best sprint figure of 1997 (122) and 1998 (123).

Will's Way and Gentlemen each earned a 126 in 1997. Bertrando got a 125 in 1993. Skip Away got a 125 in 1997.

Ghostzapper has gone all the great horses of the Beyer publishing era one better.

Typically, when such a giant figure is about to be entered into the database, there is much agonizing. That really was not the case with Ghostzapper. The figure was rather clear.

The route races at Monmouth last Saturday were what we call nine Beyer points fast. Ghostzapper's 1 1/8-mile raw time of 1:47.66 translated into a 137. Subtract nine points and you get the 128.

All the figures are compiled in the context of the day's race card. The Iselin number fell right in the line with the rest of the card.

Ghostzapper won by 10 3/4 lengths. Presidentialaffair, coming off Beyers of 112 and 110, was second by 21 1/4 lengths over Zoffinger and Private Lap, who finished a nose apart.

Zoffinger had gotten a 92 in his prior start. He earned a 75 in the Iselin. Private Lap had compiled recent figures of 104, 96, and 102.

In other words, Ghostzapper beat two horses capable of Beyers in the 90's or 100's by 32 lengths and another with a recent average of 111 by 10 3+4 lengths. That is rather powerful evidence that the 128 is legit.

So is this. The race prior to the Iselin was also run at 1 1/8 miles. The solid 3-year-old filly Richetta won a $60,000 stakes by 4 1+4 lengths. She ran the distance in 1:51.77, 4.11 seconds and 37 Beyer points slower than Ghostzapper. Richetta had earned a 90 in her prior start. She got a 91 in this start.

So how did Ghostzapper do it? That is a question the Beyers don't answer.

It was a sloppy surface. And slop sometimes does account for fluky performances.

Ghostzapper was always a colt with freak ability. He won his maiden on Nov. 16, 2002, at Hollywood Park and got a 99 Beyer. He got a 116 when he dominated the Vosburgh last September. His first race since the Vosburgh, a 120 in the Tom Fool on July 4, was a bit of a tip-off.

What nobody really knew was whether Ghostzapper could handle two turns. He had never tried it until the Iselin.

Now what? The colt has foot issues, which is why he has started just eight times.

How about the Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 30? Why couldn't you just put Ghostzapper on the lead and watch him blow the field away?

Well, there is something to consider.

Ghostzapper's trainer is Bobby Frankel. This is normally a very good thing in graded stakes. Unless those stakes are run on Breeders' Cup Day. Frankel is 2 for 57 in the Cup.

Last year, he sent out five favorites on the 12-race card at Santa Anita. None of them won. Only Medaglia d'Oro, second in the Classic, was better than fourth. The average finish for the Frankel favorites, including one that ran in undercard stakes, was sixth.

So, there are no promises for the future. The only promise is that Ghostzapper's figure was the best in the 12-year marriage of the Beyers and DRF. Just wait until the next time Ghostzapper runs. It will be right there in black and white, a 128.

Top 10 Beyer Speed Figures since 1992

GhostzapperAug. 21, 2004Monmouth128
Will's WayAug. 2, 1997Saratoga126
Formal GoldAug. 2, 1997Saratoga126
GentlemenMay 10, 1997Pimlico126
Skip AwayMay 10, 1997Pimlico125
BertrandoSept. 18, 1993Belmont125
Formal GoldSept. 20, 1997Belmont125
Formal GoldAug. 23, 1997Monmouth124
ArtaxNov. 6, 1999Gulfstream124
Midway RoadApril 22, 2004Keeneland123