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Anne M. Eberhardt

Cecil Continues Family Training Tradition

Ben Cecil, nephew of Frankel trainer Henry Cecil, has Second City in BC Dirt Mile.

The Breeders’ Cup may have failed to entice the Henry Cecil-trained superstar Frankel to cross the Atlantic and compete in the World Championships, but Cecil’s nephew, Ben, will be represented when he sends Second City postward for Reddam Racing in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) Nov. 3.

The Southern California-based Cecil got his start in racing when his father, David, and David’s twin brother, Henry, took him to the races at Newbury in their native England when he was 5. Both elder Cecils trained out of the Lambourn Training Center.
“Going to the races with my uncle is how I got into racing,” said Cecil at Santa Anita Oct. 31. “He had a couple of runners and I bet on them, and that was it. I was hooked.”
Second City will be Cecil’s 10th Breeders’ Cup starter, including champion Golden Apples, who ran fourth behind Starine in the 2002 Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) at Arlington Park.
Cecil took note when his uncle struggled mightily a number of years ago but the elder Cecil resisted the prevailing wisdom that it was time to retire.
“To come back and do what he has done the last three years is amazing,” said Ben. “It is not an easy thing to do. People lost faith in him, and at one point he had other trainers’ horses in his yard because he didn’t have enough to come close to filling it. So to get back in numbers and to have a horse like Frankel come along is pretty amazing.”
Juddmonte Farms' undefeated Frankel concluded a brilliant and undefeated racing career on Champions Day at Ascot Oct. 20, squelching hope that somehow the Breeders’ Cup could persuade his connections to ship to North America. Henry Cecil has started 11 horses in Breeders’ Cup events, winning at Santa Anita Park in 2009 with Midday in the Filly & Mare Turf. Ben Cecil said he doesn’t think it was a difficult decision for his uncle to keep Frankel at home.
“I can see why they didn’t come,” he said. “The shipping over that distance is a big unknown, and then you have the race here with tight turns he isn’t used to. There are just too many factors. As a rule, my uncle isn’t huge on international racing, plus they’re trying to promote Champions Day over there.
“So we may lack a superstar here, but you don’t know. Maybe we’ll see one come the weekend.”