06/12/2005 11:00PM

Ghostzapper's racing career over

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Ghostzapper will stand at stud at Adena Springs Farm in Kentucky.

ELMONT, N.Y. - The brief but brilliant career of Ghostzapper came to an abrupt end Monday, when his connections announced that the reigning Horse of the Year has been retired from racing due to a fracture of the sesamoid bone in his left foreleg. Ghostzapper will stand stud next year at owner Frank Stronach's Adena Springs Farm in Versailles, Ky.

According to trainer Bobby Frankel, Ghostzapper suffered the injury while winning the Grade 1 by 6 1/4 lengths at Belmont Park on May 30, his 5-year-old debut. The injury did not show up on regular X-rays, Frankel said.

Last week, Ghostzapper was shipped by van to the New Bolton Medical Center near Philadelphia, where a nuclear scan revealed the hairline fracture. Ghostzapper would have missed the remainder of 2005, and was to be retired at year's end.

"With a horse the stature of Ghostzapper you don't push the envelope too much with him,'' said Jack Brothers, the stallion sales and marketing director for Adena Springs. "He's 9 for 11; he accomplished so much. If he was just another horse, you might consider it; with this horse, [retirement's] a no-brainer. Taking him off on a high note has a lot of appeal, too.''

There were many high notes in Ghostzapper's career. Frankel's favorite was the 2003 Vosburgh, when a 3-year-old Ghostzapper beat older horses and recorded his first graded stakes win.

"It was the first time that he showed how really great a horse he was,'' Frankel said.

Last year, Ghostzapper raced only four times, but was breathtaking each time. He won the Tom Fool and Philip Iselin handicaps in romps and outfinished a determined Saint Liam by a neck in the Woodward Stakes. He finished his season with a front-running victory over a deep field in the Breeders' Cup Classic, setting a Lone Star Park track record for 1 1/4 miles. The performance earned him Horse of the Year over the popular 3-year-old Smarty Jones. Ghostzapper was also the champion older male.

Ghostzapper was not only winning these races, he was running extremely fast, according to a variety of handicapping figures. Ghostzapper recorded four Beyer Speed Figures of 120 or better. The 128 he earned winning the Iselin last August was the highest number recorded since Beyer Figures were first included in Daily Racing Form past performances in the early 1990's.

Other handicapping tools also noted that Ghostzapper was among the fastest horse of recent times.

"No other horse has ever run the numbers he's run, and he's run five or six of those,'' said Frankel, who noted that Stronach was apologetic because the horse did not run more often. "It's disappointing because Mr. Stronach wanted to show how great a horse he really was."

, a son of Awesome Again out of the Relaunch mare Baby Zip, won 9 of 11 races and earned $3,446,120. Brothers said a stud fee on Ghostzapper would not be determined until the fall, most likely after the Breeders' Cup Classic. Awesome Again stands for $125,000.

Before the Met Mile, Jess Jackson, owner of the Kendall-Jackson Winery, purchased a third interest in Ghostzapper.

Ghostzapper will ship from Belmont Park to Kentucky on Thursday along with several horses Frankel is sending to Churchill Downs for Saturday's Stephen Foster card.