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Tuesday, June 14, 2005


- I was greeted at home yesterday by the arrival of the Bloodhorse print edition – the headline was ZAP – HE’S BACK, accompanied by a picture of Ghostzapper cruising home in the Met Mile. One can argue about who he beat in his career and how he compares to greats of the past who answered every call to the post, facing the best the sport had to offer while conceding vast amounts of weight. But one thing that’s not in dispute is that he was very, very fast.

"He is the fastest horse since we began making figures in 1982," said Jerry Brown, who operates Thoro-Graph, a Manhattan-based company that produces speed figures for gamblers, trainers and owners. "And he is the fastest by quite a bit. There have been a couple of other horses who ran figures close to his on occasion, but three of his races produced the fastest three figures we have ever given.” [NY Times]
In the same article, trainer John Nerud, who conditioned the great Dr. Fager, a horse to whom some have compared Ghostzapper, lamented the fragility of the breed.
"I don't know exactly what's going on with these horses today. It's a shame. It might have something to do with the environment. It has something to with breeding. When you breed all these horses who could only start five or six times, you're bound to get offspring that can only make it through five or six starts."
Now, he’s disappeared from the scene just as abruptly as he came upon it last year, winning Horse of the Year with just 4 starts against a total of 24 rivals, half of those in the Breeders Cup, which was his only career win on a dry track around two turns. He was 5-2 in that race, probably because his only 2 turn race to that point was against 3 horses in the slop at Monmouth - that's why I didn't bet him. Scanning the papers around the country today, there’s really not much to be said about him, other than he was very fast. He was involved in only one memorable finish and that in a race that I imagine few people witnessed, had established no competitive rivalries, and had no real following other than amongst already committed racing fans. And now – ZAP – HE’S GONE. Poof.

- I got to hear some excerpts of Dave Johnson’s radio call of the Belmont, and it was nice to hear him back in good form. He’s a guy whose youthful exuberance served him very well in my opinion, and I found that his calls became more contrived and formulated as the years went by. For the Belmont, he altered his signature call to “And down the stretch he comes!” which was a nice, and obviously appropriate touch.

- Disappointing returns this past weekend for a couple of highly regarded 3 yo sons of Fusaichi Pegasus who had dropped off of the Derby trail. Both are trained by Neil Drysdale. On Saturday, Fusaichi Samurai finished dead last at 4-5 – oh my – in an entry level allowance against older horses. "He's been off for such a long time, and he felt like he wasn't getting ahold of the track very well this time," said [Victor] Espinoza….I still think he's a special horse, but it's kind of hard to say right now. We'll see with a different track condition and a little more distance.” [LA Times] On Sunday, Drysdale fared a bit better with his maiden Canteen, who had run in the Arkansas Derby, but settled for second at the same 4-5 price. He closed for second to 4 yo Viziership, a Frankel-trained full brother to his multiple Grade 1 winner Sightseek. For Viziership, it was his second lifetime start; he was dead on the board last month in his debut at 7 furlongs, finishing 5th. Stretched out to two turns here, he held off Canteen as the 4-1 3rd choice.