Racing loses a living legend

Any fan of racing has certainly come across the name Bobby Frankel, a titan in our great game for nearly forty years.  Racing lost this tremendous individual on Monday as a 2nd bout with lymphoma took Frankel at the age of 68.  What did Bobby Frankel mean to racing?  A great deal and certainly more than can ever be explained in a simple blog post.

Frankel was the Eclipse Award winner for Most Outstanding Trainer on five occasions (1995 and 2000-2003) and trainer 11 Eclipse Award winners.  He won at least one Grade I stakes race every year from 1988 through 2009.  In an effort to remember just a few of Frankel’s many superstars, I’ll pick five of them, which will certainly lead to some glaring omissions.


Major Stakes wins: Humana Distaff, Ogden Phipps, Beldame

Known to be one of Frankel’s favorite horses, this Juddmonte-owned mare won Grade I races on seven occasions.  She engaged in a stirring rivalry with Azeri, the 2002 Horse of the Year who spent 2004 on the East Coast.  Sightseek got the best of her in the Ogden Phipps that year and wound up closing out her career with another routinely majestic win in the Beldame at her favorite racetrack, Belmont Park.

4. Ventura

Ventura was one of Frankel’s final Grade I winners and his last Breeders’ Cup winner as she scored in the 2008 Filly & Mare Sprint.  She was a three-time Grade I winner and was a daughter of another brilliant Frankel trainee and Grade I winner, Chester House.  Her white blaze face will never be forgotten as her turn of foot was absolutely electrifying.  Here’s a look at Ventura’s greatest triumph:

3. Intercontinental

An enigmatic daughter of super-sire Danehill, this filly loomed a serious player in the female turf division in 2004 but ended the year quietly after being defeated at a short price in the Diana.  She came back in 2005 in search of vindication and ended her season with a sensational victory in the Filly and Mare Turf at Belmont Park:

2. Empire Maker

Frankel had two serious contenders on the Derby Trail in 2003 and this son of 1991 Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled seemed destined for greatness.  After a scintillating win at Gulfstream he was thrust into the role of Derby favorite and he seemed poised to bring Frankel his first Derby after a Wood Memorial score.   A tough luck third in the Derby gave way to a Belmont Stakes bid for Empire Maker and he earned a victory that was historic, even for a trainer with Frankel’s accomplishments:

1. Ghostzapper

Much was expected of this brilliantly fast son of Awesome Again at the beginning of 2004.  Four starts later racing had seen one of its most memorable champions as Ghostzapper won the Tom Fool, Iselin, Woodward, and Breeders’ Cup Classic in just about five months’ time.  He came back to win the 2005 Met Mile before being retired because of a hairline fracture in an ankle.  We didn’t see much of Ghostzapper but what we did made it quite clear that he was an all-time great.


RIP Bobby Frankel, one of racing’s all-time greats.


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