Anxious Moments for Frankel As 'Leroi' Romps
Updated: Wednesday, September 21, 2005 5:37 PM
Posted: Sunday, September 18, 2005 7:30 PM
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Trainer Bobby Frankel
The astonishingly impressive win by super turf horse Leroidesanimaux excited everyone at Woodbine, Bobby Frankel included. However, the trainer didn't see the last furlong. Instead, he felt dizzy, nearly fainted, bowed his head, and tried to regather himself.
The 64-year-old Frankel, a five-time Eclipse Award winner as America's top trainer, could hear the applause and knew that his monster of a racehorse had won decisively. So he tried to get to his feet. He had obligations in the winner's circle and had to walk from the grandstand, then across the turf, dirt, and harness tracks to get there. On the way, he had another turn. He needed assistance as he sat on the steps of the main Woodbine grandstand, in the blazing sun, his wife at his side, and security and medical officers buzzing all around him.
He bowed his head again and stayed in this position for about four minutes.
"I have had a bad chest cold for a few days and, with all the sun and excitement, I just was short of breath," explained the trainer. "I kept feeling faint from the time he jumped and then with this walk, and I just had to sit down to gather my breath again."
It was a scary moment for all. Concerned faces were everywhere. Frankel looked pale and was immediately given water by the staff who rushed to his aid.
"This is my first trip to Toronto this year, and I flew in on Saturday, felt OK except for this cold, even went to a baseball game last night, but when the horse opened up around the bend it just hit me."
After getting to his feet and being escorted to the winner's circle where he went through the customary congratulations and presentations with aplomb, Frankel started heading back to the press center for interviews. On the way there, former champion Canadian jockey Sandy Hawley, now a commentator, shook his hand, asked him how he was, congratulated him and the horse and quipped, "He's so good Bobby, I could have won on him. I wouldn't have been as pretty as Johnny (Velazquez), but I still would have won."
Frankel agreed and then said that Leroidesanimaux (which in English means "The King Of The Animals") was as good a turf horse as he'd ever trained. "He must be. He keeps winning and getting better with every run."
When asked how he compared with the Australian superstar Alinghi, who is now in his barn, Frankel brightened a bit and said, "I think she is as good as him. I have some really nice horses now heading into October, and I did the right thing running him here as Alinghi will probably be my Shadwell Mile (gr. IT) horse at Keeneland."
By this time, with water in his system and now indoors out of the sun, Frankel was picking up. He wasn't spritely, and was acting on about three cylinders, but was on the mend. When told his horse actually raced away to win by 7 3/4 lengths, he smiled again.
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