Ghostzapper set for Oaklawn.

Ghostzapper set for Oaklawn.

Skip Dickstein

Ghostzapper Sick, to Miss Oaklawn Handicap

(from Oaklawn Park release)
Reigning Horse of the Year Ghostzapper, who was scheduled to make his 5-year-old debut in the $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II), won't be coming to Hot Springs for the April 9 race after all.

"The horse got sick last weekend, and has been running a temperature," trainer Bobby Frankel said late Wednesday afternoon. "It's a sinus thing. He's already missed four days of training, and he'll miss a few more. Of course I'm disappointed we won't be coming, but we're not about to take any chances with this horse. We will take a step back, and wait for the Met Mile."

The Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) is May 30 at Belmont Park.

Frankel was hoping to win the Oaklawn Handicap, which highlights the first day of the track's spring festival, for the third straight year. Frankel won the nine-furlong fixture in 2003 with Medaglia d'Oro and last year with Peace Rules.

"Actually," Frankel said, "I thought I nominated (New Orleans Handicap winner) Badge of Silver for the Oaklawn, but the racing office told me I did not. So this is doubly disappointing."

"It's unfortunate that Ghostzapper is not coming," said Oaklawn racing secretary Pat Pope, "but that's part of the game. Horses get sick. They are not machines."

The defection of Stronach Stables' Ghostzapper, who would have been a prohibitive favorite, certainly will cause many horsemen with Oaklawn-nominated horses to reassess their position.

Eclipse trainer Todd Pletcher has notified the Oaklawn racing office that he plans to send Pollard's Vision and/or Limehouse for the stakes.

The list of nominations also includes Eddington and Pie's Prospect, one-two in the recent Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II), and Grand Reward, an Irish import from trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

Additional nominees include: Absent Friend, Colonial Colony, Crowned King, Free Thinking, Pro Prado, River Mountain Rd, Second of June, Seek Gold, Separato, and Wanderin Boy.