Trevor Jones

Frankel Pulls Away from European Competition

Frankel appears to be as good a Classic prospect as Europe has seen in years.

Sometimes everything comes together perfectly in a racehorse–the right pedigree, the right connections, the right name, and the ability to be worthy of all three. Such is the case with Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Frankel. Named for legendary Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel and trained by another legend in Henry Cecil, the unbeaten colt made his case to be named Europe’s champion juvenile with an easy win October 16 in the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes (Eng-I).

For everyone else in Europe with a potential classic colt in the barn, the frightening thing is that on pedigree, Frankel seems quite likely to improve with maturity and added distance. He is a son of Galileo, one of Sadler’s Wells’ top sons at stud, with a distaff pedigree that suggests that longer distances will be no problem.

Produced from 1993 CIGA Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) winner Urban Sea and so a full brother to Italian highweight Black Jack Bellamy and a half brother to 2009 European Horse of the Year Sea the Stars (by Cape Cross), Galileo was a champion racer in his own right. While less brilliant than Sea the Stars, he probably had greater pure stamina, winning the 2001 Vodafone Epsom Derby (Eng-I), Budweiser Irish Derby (Ire-I), and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes (Eng-I) over his favorite distance of 12 furlongs. Although he was beaten by a head by Fantastic Light in the 10-furlong Food Island Irish Champion Stakes (Ire-I) and finished up the track in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), his exploits were enough to earn honors as 2001 European champion 3-year-old male.

Galileo retired to stud at Coolmore, and his first crop arrived in 2003. The stallion served notice quickly that he would be a success as a classic sire, for that first crop contained 2006 Boylesports Irish One Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) heroine Nightime and 2006 Ladbrokes St. Leger Stakes (Eng-I) winner Sixties Icon as well as 2006 John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) winner Red Rocks. 2006 also saw the unveiling of Galileo’s first champion juvenile, Teofilo, who capped an unbeaten campaign of five starts with wins in the Laing O’Rourke National Stakes (Ire-I) and Dewhurst Stakes  These top runners helped place Galileo seventh among all European sires of 2006 while represented by just two crops of racing age.

Since then, if Galileo has not been Sadler’s Wells’ equal as a sire, no one else has either. He certainly has not disgraced his “old man”; second on the European sire list in 2007 and fifth in 2009, he led all European sires in 2008, the year that his son New Approach was named Europe’s champion 3-year-old male while another son, Cima de Triomphe, earned divisional highweight honors in Italy after winning the Derby Italiano (Ity-I). Represented this year by Irish Derby winner Cape Blanco, Moyglare Stud Stakes (Ire-I) winner Misty For Me, and Juddmonte International Stakes (Eng-I) winner Rip Van Winkle as well as Frankel, Galileo currently sits atop the 2010 European sire list.

As can be seen from the above, Galileo gets good juveniles and milers as well as horses capable of staying 12 furlongs or more. In Frankel’s case, this versatility is reinforced by his dam Kind, a two-time listed stakes winner over sprint distances, and her sire Danehill. A first-rate sprinter, Danehill proved a remarkably versatile and consistent sire in a career that spanned two hemispheres and included multiple sire championships in both Australia and Europe. He became the first Thoroughbred stallion to sire 300 stakes winners (The Jockey Club credits him with 354 from 2,499 named foals of racing age) and sired classic winners in Australia, England, France, Ireland, and Italy during a career that was cut short by a fatal paddock accident at the age of 17.

A half sister to 2005 Arlington Million Stakes (gr. IT) winner Powerscourt (by Sadler’s Wells), Kind is out of 1993 Lancashire Oaks (Eng-III) winner Rainbow Lake, whose sire Rainbow Quest is another modern European classic influence. The best staying son of Blushing Groom (no doubt due to the influence of his broodmare sire, Herbager), Rainbow Quest was rated the champion older male of 1985 in both England and France after winning the Coronation Cup (Eng-I) and the Arc de Triomphe. He proved a top source of stamina at stud, his progeny including 1990 Ever Ready Epsom Derby winner Quest for Fame, 1990 Kildangan Stud Irish Oaks winner Knight’s Baroness, and St. Leger Stakes winners Nedawi (1998) and Millenary (2000), and was the leading broodmare sire in England and Ireland in 2003 and 2004.

Rockfest, the dam of Rainbow Lake, brings yet another important stamina influence to the pedigree in her sire, Stage Door Johnny. The American co-champion 3-year-old male of 1968, the son of Prince John proved his own stamina by winning the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) before becoming an important sire and broodmare sire.

With a genetic background like that, Frankel appears to be as good a classic prospect as Europe has seen in years. But regardless of what happens in the future, Frankel has already proved himself a worthy tribute to his illustrious namesake.