Friday, October 21, 2011

Frankely Unbelievable

by Andy Belfiore

   It wasn’t his head-turning performance in the G1 Queen Elizabeth II S. at Ascot that was hard to believe. He’d done it before, treating elite rivals like maybe they should be running for a tag. No, it’s the fact that this superstar of the turf owned by Saudi Prince Khalid Abdullah is named for a Jewish guy from Brooklyn who once admitted in a Sports Illustrated article that, long before he became a Hall of Fame trainer, he knew so little about horses he thought they maybe ate meat.

   And it’s not as if Mr. Abdullah makes a habit of naming his horses for people. If you look at the very very very long list of champions and Classic winners bred and/or raced by Juddmonte, there isn’t a single one that honors a human. Many are the result of a mellifluous pairing of sire and dam...Jolypha (LYPHArd--NavaJO Princess), Wandesta (NashWAN--DE STAel), Ryafan (Lear FAN--CaRYA), for instance.

   If there had ever been the motivation to give an admiring nod to someone, the great Juddmonte broodmare Hasili gave her owner nine chances to do so. Instead, he chose names such as Dansili, Banks Hill, Heat Haze, Intercontinental, Cacique, Champs Elysees and Deluxe.

   But, after Bobby Frankel’s untimely passing in November of 2009, Mr. K. Abdullah took a look at the crop of yearlings getting ready to head to the track, and chose the best of the lot to pay his tribute. And it’s not hard to understand why.

   When Juddmonte was honored with the 2009 Eclipse Award for top breeder, racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe said during his acceptance speech, “Bobby Frankel was a major part of our success, not only in the U.S., but for Juddmonte worldwide. His care and attention towards the horses was second to none."
Racing Post photo

   Bobby Frankel could be as cantankerous as they come, but no one would argue his equine genius. It could not be more fitting that the horse named for him, who also has a tendency to be headstrong, has been second to none himself.

   The Prince, who normally shuns the spotlight as if it might burn him, was front and center as Frankel, the horse, galloped home to his ninth straight victory at Ascot last Saturday. After the race, he stated simply, “He is the best horse I have ever owned.”

   He obviously held Bobby Frankel in equally high esteem. And, even though it wasn’t always in his nature, somewhere up there, Bobby Frankel is smiling.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Frankly I thought Andy B. hit the nail right on the head. And yes I do believe Bobby is smiling down upon his namesake and wishing he was going to the Breeders' Cup to show all of America how truly great he really is.