Bobby Frankel had a simple explanation for Ghostzapper's record-setting win in the US$4 million Breeders' Cup Classic.
"He's just faster," the trainer said after Ghostzapper cruised to victory over a stellar field that included defending champion Pleasantly Perfect, Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone and the great mare Azeri.
Frankel, who had just two wins with 62 Breeders' Cup starters before the Classic, saddled the beaten favorite the past three years -- Medaglia d'Oro in 2002-2003 and Aptitude in 2001.
This time, his favorite didn't fail. Ridden by Javier Castellano, the 4-year-old colt sprung from the gate and was in control all the way around Lone Star Park, winning by three lengths over Roses in May.
Ghostzapper, a sprinter when he began his career, covered the 1 1/4 miles in 1:59.02, bettering the Classic record of 1:59.16 set by Skip Away in 1997 at Hollywood Park.
Azeri was a non-threatening fifth in a 13-horse field considered the deepest in the 21-year history of the Breeders' Cup. Pleasantly Perfect was third, Birdstone was seventh and Funny Cide was 10th.
With a perfect 4-for-4 season, Frankel said Ghostzapper is a cinch for Horse of the Year.
"It's a no brainer," Frankel said. "Handicap Horse of the Year."
Smarty Jones, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner who was retired in August, appears to have the inside track on Horse of the Year.
Castellano was a winner in his first Breeders' Cup race.
Ghostzapper was moved to longer distances this year, and Frankel's decision paid off. The lightly raced son of Awesome Again won the Iselin Handicap and the Woodward Stakes, both at 1 1/8 miles, and the trainer was confident his colt could go even farther.
Ghostzapper is owned by Magna Entertainment Corp. chairman Frank Stronach, who operates Lone Star Park and owns Santa Anita and Gulfstream.
The winner paid US$7, US$4 and US$3.60. Roses in May, ridden by John Velazquez, paid US$8.20 and US$5.20, and Pleasantly Perfect, with Jerry Bailey aboard, returned US$3 to show.
Ghostzapper earned US$2,08 million and boosted his earnings to US$2,996,120 on eight victories in 10 career starts.
In the other Breeders' Cup races, trainer Todd Pletcher ended an 0-for-12 run with two winners, Ashado in the US$2 million Distaff, and Speightstown in the US$1 million Sprint; and there were three major upsets: 17-1 long shot Singletary won the US$1.54 million Mile; 28-1 shot Wilko took the US$1.37 million Juvenile; and 28-1 choice Better Talk Now won the US$1.83 million Turf after surviving a foul claim.
Also, Sweet Catomine captured the US$1 million Juveniles Fillies, and Ouija Board took the US$1.29 million Filly & Mare Turf.
Singletary held off Antonius Pius by a half-length for the upset, returning US$35 to win.
Named for former Chicago Bears linebacker Mike Singletary, the 4-year-old colt gave jockey David Flores a win in his only mount of the day. Purchased for only US$3,200, Singletary earned US$873,600 to boost his career earnings to US$1,439,732 for the 15 partners of Little Red Feather Racing.
European invader Wilko stole the show from Derby-driven trainers Bob Baffert, Lukas and Zito: The colt upset Baffert's 2-1 favorite Roman Ruler, Zito's Sun King and Lukas' Consolidator.