Bobby Frankel: Take Two

By Sean Clancy
From The Saratoga Special, reprinted with permission

The trainer had a good Saturday; his favorite horse Flute won the Alabama. Sunday made Saturday look like a trip to the dentist. Frankel won the Saratoga Breeders' Cup with Aptitude right here at Saratoga. Frankel stood in the winner's circle, smiled, shook a few hands, had his picture taken.

"One more to go," Frankel yelled as he declined an interview with Jan Rushton. Through the gate, under the clubhouse, past the mutuel windows, by the autograph seekers, over the stroller, through the Italian ice line and back to his couch in racing secretary Mike Lakow's office.

Frankel sat quietly and watched Skimming wire the Pacific Classic. He took an elbow from Jorge Chavez's agent Richard DePass at about the wire and shook some more hands. The journalists were piling up outside.

"All right, let's go," he said to three of them in a circle. "It was exciting . . . "

Back to his couch after the usual questions were asked. His phone rang again and again.

"Do me a favor. Call me back at 5-1-5-8-4-6-2-0-0. Ask for Mike Lakow's office," Frankel yelled into his blue cell phone. You know you're at ease when you're giving out someone else's phone number. Frankel stayed in his newly claimed office while the rest of the world looked for him.

"Did Bobby Frankel come in here?" said one frantic writer. Yes.

"Is he still here?" asked another. Yes.

"Is he coming out?" asked the first one. I don‚t know.

"Did you talk to him?" asked the second one. Yes, but not about that.

They were off in a dash.

"It was exciting . . . "

Finally Frankel came out to answer the phone at the front desk of the secretary's office.

"Doc Danner? No, he's not here." Back to his couch.

"Todd Pletcher sat here and won two. Wayne Lukas got up from here and lost. I'm three for three from here," Frankel said.

He waited for seventh at Del Mar.

Battle God went to the lead, fought off about three challenges and wound up fifth. Frankel watched and talked.

First about Flute.

"I paid a lot of attention to her this morning. She doesn't like sweets but she likes the attention so we paid a lot of attention to her this morning," Frankel said. "Came by three or four different times and spent a lot time with her. She acts like she never ran. She was alert, she wasn't tired."

Then about motivation.

"The whole thing is . . . I gotta get the monkey off my back with Breeders' Cup," Frankel said. "The Triple Crown that doesn't bother me, I haven't run but two horses, maybe three horses in it. That doesn't bother me. But hey, if I don't do it, my career has been pretty good."

Then what makes him a good horse trainer?

"I just think I take good care of the horses and I adjust to situations," Frankel said. "You know it's a good time for me to brag 'cause when I'm doing bad, I'll tell you I'm the worst trainer in the world. I'll drive home sometimes and say, 'What am I doing in this business? Why do I got to aggravate myself to death?' I tell myself how bad a trainer I am. I beat myself up."

Then about fortunate he is.

"That's what you're living for--days like today and yesterday. I'm having a tremendous meet here, having a great meet at Del Mar. It's unbelievable," Frankel said. "A lot of people never experience these things."

Then about training.

"On days like today, I think I can train. Other days...I keep changing my training. I don't train the same way all the time. Yeah, people say 'Oh you gotta stay . . .' This game changes so much you gotta keep on changing, with the young guys coming up," Frankel said. "When you're not doing well, you keep going over and over everything. You confuse yourself. When you're confident you go just go with it. I've changed my training methods in the last two years. Well, it''s... I don't want to give away my secrets. You know. Not like it's a secret. I've realized...well, it's probably the horses."

Then about Aptitude.

"He's a good horse--Aptitude. He was unlucky not to win the Derby. He was 50 feet off the rail going down the backside. 50 feet," Frankel said. "It's very exciting because people got to knocking him. He's a stallion now. By being put up in the (Hollywood Gold Cup) and winning this one, he's a stallion now. He's worth a lot of money now."

Then about money.

"I don't do it for the money. I swear to God, I don't," Frankel said. "The money's good for the money title at the end of the year. But I don't think about it as money that I have to spend. I don't care about the money to spend. I got money to spend. It's not going to change my lifestyle, I still got to get up in the morning and go to work. I'm not going to take a vacation or anything. I got to keep on top because if I'm put in the Hall of Fame and don't do any good afterwards then people say you don't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. To be put in the Hall of Fame and you'‚re still active, if you don't do good, they say you're lucky and forget about you right away."

Nobody was forgetting about Frankel on this day.

Old friends Richard Dutrow and Tony Dutrow came into the office about then. They sat around and waited for the Finlandia Handicap at Del Mar, with Frankel represented by Tates Creek.

"I got a shot here. You don't think I can get lucky enough to win another one do you?" Frankel asked.

In unison, the whole room said, "You can." Frankel laughed.

About that time, Tates Creek and Kent Desormeaux broke from the gate.

"What are you doing Kent?" Frankel said as Tates Creek went to the lead. "Why don't you let that other filly drop over on you?" Frankel said as they went around the first turn.

"I don't like the way..." Frankel said halfway around the last turn.

Then Tates Creek took off at the head of the stretch and opened up five.

"What a ride," Frankel yelled.

Tates Creek hit the wire, Frankel jumped up high-fived the room and said, "Let's go."

Contact Sean Clancy via e-mail at or telephone at 518-581-1947.