09/08/2004 11:00PM

Looking so good it's scary

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Ghostzapper, here winning the Tom Fool, comes off a victory in the Iselin and a Beyer Speed Figure of 128.

ELMONT, N.Y. - When Medaglia d'Oro was retired in June, trainer Bobby Frankel hoped Peace Rules would be the one to take his place in the handicap division. As it turned out, Frankel had another replacement waiting in the wings.

When Ghostzapper successfully stretched out to nine furlongs in last month's Philip Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park, it opened up a new world for the talented colt, who previously had not raced beyond seven furlongs. Saturday, Ghostzapper can earn his way to the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic with another solid performance, in the Grade 1, $500,000 at Belmont Park. Ghostzapper, a 4-year-old son of Awesome Again, is 3 for 3 at Belmont.

The Woodward will go as the last of 10 races on a Belmont card that includes the Grade 1 Gazelle for 3-year-old fillies and the Grade 1 Man o' War for male turf marathoners. The Man o' War and Woodward will be shown live on Television Games Network as well as regional Fox Sports Net stations from 5-6 p.m. Eastern.

Quarter cracks and ankle issues have limited Ghostzapper to just two performances this year, but each one was breathtaking. In July, off a 281-day layoff, Ghostzapper romped to a 4 1/4-length victory in the Grade 2 Tom Fool Handicap. He ran just .17 seconds off the track and stakes record, set by Left Bank.

Unhappy with the weight assigned Ghostzapper in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt, Frankel shipped Ghostzapper to Monmouth Park, where he romped to a 10 3/4-length victory in the Iselin. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 128 - the highest figure since Daily Racing Form began publishing them in 1992.

Frankel said other handicapping figures he uses didn't have Ghostzapper's Iselin any faster than the Tom Fool or last September's Vosburgh. "As fast as he's run, this is not a top for him," Frankel said. "He did that number twice before. It was the same for Midas Eyes."

Frankel was referring to Midas Eyes winning the Grade 1 Forego 10 days after running one of his best speed figures 10 days earlier in an allowance race.

Though Frankel said he doesn't fear a regression in the Woodward, he elected to run Ghostzapper here rather than the Jockey Club Gold Cup on Oct. 2 so the horse would have more time before the Classic on Oct. 30.

"I'd rather give him the time between this one and the big race," Frankel said. "He's acting well and doing very well and traveling well. He breezed beautifully the other morning. You still want to win these races. You can't worry about the Breeders' Cup. Going to Texas, you're liable to draw the 14-hole there."

Ghostzapper will break from post 4 under Javier Castellano in the eight-horse Woodward. All runners will carry 126 pounds.

In the Iselin, Ghostzapper stalked Presidentialaffair in the Iselin, who is one of the main speed horses in the field along wiht Saint Liam. Saint Liam has not been out since April 3, when he finished third behind Peace Rules in the Oaklawn Handicap.

Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said Saint Liam has been suffering from tender feet since then, but that "he's doing really good right now. I think he's ready to run his 'A' race."

Midway Road, another front-running type, could work out a stalking strip under Robby Albarado. He has shown an affinity for an off track.

Trainer Todd Pletcher hopes a return to Belmont Park can get Newfoundland over the hump in a Grade 1 race. In July, Newfoundland finished second, beaten a neck by Peace Rules in the Suburban. He was seventh in the Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga on Aug. 7.

"No question about, it he loves Belmont," said Pletcher, who also entered Colita in the Woodward. "He might not love Ghostzapper, but he loves Belmont."

Bowman's Band, whose best race this year came when he ran second in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap here, and Seek Gold, an allowance winner last out, complete the field.

The field

Woodward
Purse: $500,000; 1 1/8 miles; Grade 1

PPHORSEJOCKEYWT.ODDS
1ColitaR. Migliore12615-1
2Saint LiamE. Prado1265-1
3Midway RoadR. Albarado1264-1
4GhostzapperJ. Castellano1264-5
5NewfoundlandJ. Velazquez12612-1
6Seek GoldC. Velasquez12630-1
7Bowman's BandR. Dominguez1268-1
8PresidentialaffairP. Fragoso12612-1

* Odds by Brian Pochman