Today was a special day in Brittan.
Was it special because the sun came out after the wettest Spring Brittan has ever seen?
Well yes. Any day the pasty, pasty Brits see the sun shine is a special day.
Today was a special day because a Thoroughbred race horse named Frankel won his eleventh race in a row.
Frankel has never been beaten.
Frankel might just be the best race horse ever to pound the turf.
In any given year Frankel would be an exceptional superstar, but he is even more special as he is the name sake of a great man.
He is more special then any other Thoroughbred, not just because he is unbeaten but because he was named after a Thoroughbred racing icon; the late, great Bobby Frankel, a true California legend and one of the most amazing California Turf trainers I have ever seen in my life time. I’d say the best, but one of Bobbie’s peers was The Bald Eagle, Charlie Whittingham., trainer of Flawlessly, one of the all time great turf mares of all time. Bobby was mentored by Charlie Whittingham and would go on to set a new record of winning 25 grade 1 races in 2003, a record that still stands. He also campaigned the champion Ghost Zapper, some would say one of his best horses. I personally loved Bertrando a California horse he trained in the nineties.
When Bobby passed away quite quickly a few years ago, only in his sixties, of Leukemia, the young turf star Frankel was named in his honour. It seemed fitting that a turf champion would be named after this great California legend.
Last year at this time Frankel ran one of the most impressive races I have ever seen in my life.
In the St Jame’s Palace Stakes as a three year old, Frankel ran ahead of the field by ten lengths and still held on to win the race. I’ve seen one other horse do that in the history of horse racing and that was Secretariat. During the race Ben Cecil, Frankel’s trainer was horrified that the horse took off like that and thought the race was over… Until Frankel held on to win. It seemed no one could touch the big brown horse.
This mornings racing was quite different from last year. TVG, the horse racing network had very interesting coverage of the race this morning. There is this very well known, extremely flamboyant, eccentric English Handicapper John McCririck; it is common for John to start yelling and carrying on about a certain horse he likes and get very aggressive. Today was a little different as in the middle of the TVG telecast John started yelling at the other host back in the California studio (Another British guy) about British politics and how (The other host) Steven Lyons was a bleeding heart liberal blah blah blah. It’s perfectly normal to see John McCririck go off on a rant but its usually about horse racing and not politics.
There was an unusual uncomfortable silence (And dead air) as the television coverage from England went back to the TVG studio in California where Steven Lyons was on air. None of the California personalities knew what to say after the out burst. Yes, this is live TV. That was completely unscripted and there was dead air as the California personalities had no idea, you could tell, the politics in England and what the hell John McCririck was talking about so passionately.
But back to the horse racing…
Top hats, tails and the Queen of England, oh my! Yes, the Queen, at eighty six years old is such a huge Royal Ascot horse racing fan, she has been known to sit in the rain for four hours just to watch the races. Well, she is is English, maybe that kind of rain does not bother her majesty.
As the horses left the paddock, Frankel looked truly amazing, what a glorious animal. The sun was shining for once and the turf was slightly wet, listed as good, in horse racing terms. Frankel’s coat was gleaming, as jockey Tom Queally, who has been the rider in all his races, sat astride him in his customary teal and pink silks, a pink cap on his head.
The other horses in this race, the Queen Anne Stakes were all listed at about 99-1 with Frankel the over whelming favorite at 1-9. The fans were not betting if Frankel would win, but by how many lengths he would win by.
In this race in Berkshire England Frankel was facing some horses who may not have been champions themselves if they had been racing any other time in history. These other stallions had exceptional race records. The four horse was a gorgeous black stud and had been in the money something like nine of his fourteen races. That one was at 99-1.
The number seven horse had been in the money in twenty of thirty races! I really don’t remember any of these horses names. They would in mere moments just be horses that Frankel would toy with on this June day in the Berkshire turf.
This race was run on the straight as many English races are. Frankel sat in fourth behind the early leader and made his move half a mile in, easily over taking his rivals and winning so impressively by eleven lenghtes. Horses don’t win races by large margins in turf races. Winning a race by eleven race is unheard of in turf racing. The fact that this was a Grade One race is simply amazing. This horse might be the best I have ever seen, and I know that Bobby is watching from heaven and so proud of this, a horse who will go down in history more then likely the best turf horse horse racing has ever seen.