Santa Anita Park announced the Jan. 1 San Gorgonio Handicap (gr. II) has been renamed the Robert J. Frankel Memorial Handicap, in honor of the late Hall of Fame conditioner who won the San Gorgonio a record eight times and who holds Santa Anita’s all-time record of 917 wins.
Frankel was also leading trainer at Santa Anita on five different occasions: 1974-75; 1976-77; 1978-79; 1980-81; and 1981-82.
Frankel, who passed away after a valiant fight with lymphoma at the age of 68 Nov. 16, 2009, ranks second behind the late Charlie Whittingham in Santa Anita stakes races won, with 146.
The San Gorgonio, for older fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on turf, was first won by Frankel in 1973 with Extra Hand, who was owned by one of Frankel’s original clients, Marion R. Frankel and was ridden by Laffit Pincay Jr.
It would be 19 years before Frankel won his second San Gorgonio, with Wandesta, in 1996. The Juddmonte Farms homebred was ridden Corey Nakatani, who also won aboard the Frankel-conditioned Sixieme Sens in 1997. She was owned by Charles Kenis and the 3+U Stable.
Frankel’s fourth San Gorgonio triumph came with See You Soon in 1999, who was also owned by Charles Kenis. Kent Desormeaux was the winning jockey.
Uncharted Haven, owned by 3+U Stable and ridden by Alex Solis, provided Frankel with his fifth San Gorgonio tally in 2001. Frankel came back to win the 2003 running with Juddmonte Farms’ Tates Creek, who was piloted by Patrick Valenzuela.
The following year, 2004, the diminutive Megahertz, owned by Michael Bello and ridden by Alex Solis, gave Frankel his seventh San Gorgonio.
Stronach Stables homebred Citronnade, ridden by David Flores, gave Frankel his eighth and final San Gorgonio score in 2007.