The 15 Juddmonte Farms horses still in training at
“We’ve had discussions, but there has been no concrete decision yet,” O’Rourke said Nov 20. “Humberto has control of everything, and
“On a few occasions, Bobby said, ‘Look, why don’t you give them to somebody else,’ but he was aware of the Prince’s wishes. Sometimes, I felt maybe it was too much of a burden on him, but I do think he enjoyed at least being part of Breeders’ Cup day, even though we were all sad Ventura couldn’t pull it off.”
Frankel died of leukemia Nov. 16 at his California home.
O’Rourke said the
“We’ve thinned everything down,” O’Rourke said. “We obviously were aware of what was happening, and we took a lot of the horses to the farm and didn’t bring as many horses over from
Whether Ascanio keeps most of the horses or they are sent to another trainer or trainers, there will be some very big shoes to fill.
“The Prince said he realizes everyone is asking what we are going to do, and that there are a lot of trainers who would love to take over the horses, but he’s not expecting anybody to fill Bobby’s shoes,” O’Rourke said. “He obviously was an exceptional trainer and a unique personality as well. And there was a very strong fondness we developed for him. A lot of us were confused why we became so fond of the cranky old devil; we never could figure that out. I know my wife never quite figured it out, but she never saw him in the same light we saw him in.
“We may not ever achieve the level of success we enjoyed with Bobby all these years, but he’d be the first person to say, ‘Come on, life goes on.’
“I was laughing at the services the other day. There were about four or five us standing around in a circle and some lady came up to us and said, ‘Oh, wouldn’t Bobby have loved this?’ And we all laughed, because we all had the exact same thought: ‘He probably wouldn’t have showed up.’”
O’Rourke recalls those final heart-breaking moments talking to Frankel. As sad and as gut-wrenching as they were, he always will remember fondly how Frankel remained true to himself even in the face of death.
“Last Friday (Nov. 13), Bobby called me while I was at the barn and told me, ‘I’m going home tomorrow. I’m not going to take any more transfusions. I just don’t want to go on like this.’ And he said, ‘I’m scared.’
“There was a silence, and then, Bobby said, ‘Talk to Humberto and just tell him, two easy halfs for
“That was Bobby, still training horses right up to the very end.”