NEWS BLOG (WSAU) Even if you’re a big sports fan, you probably don’t know who Bobby Frankel is. He’s a legendary trainer of thoroughbred race horses. He died of cancer earlier this week.
When you train horses for Mary Lou Whitney, Overbrook Farms, and the Crown Prince of Dubai you are expected to win many horse races. You’re working with the best-bred horses in the world. Superior bloodlines give you an edge. He’d trained many horses that were purchased for $1-million or more from their breeders, and would be worth tens of millions as stallions when he was done with them.
But that’s not where Bobby Frankel started. He built his reputation over 40 years as a person who could take bad horses and make them better. For many years Frankel trained mostly low-class claiming horses.
Claiming races are horse races where the animals are being offered for sale. They can be purchased by a registered owner or trainer up until the race begins. The trainer can look at the horse in the paddock before the race, but needs to submit their purchase slip before the race begins. The buyer is making a bet that horse will be worth what they’d paid for it. A trainer of claiming horses makes their living by making those animals into better runners than they’d otherwise be.
And Bobby Frankel excelled at developing claiming horses into high-class runners. $10,000 purchases would turn into $100,000 stakes horses. And in time, he got the attention of higher class owners who sent their better horses to him.
But even as his stable filled with blue-blooded animals, Frankel would still make regular trips to Chile and Argentina. Each winter he’d buy one or two horses to race in his own name, or to race in partnership with his friends. It’s hard to make intelligent choices about foreign horses. They race against interior competition. Their breeding is more obscure. Only someone with a shrewd eye for horseflesh could make intelligent purchases in South America and run those horses successfully in the United States. And year after year, Bobby Frankel’s “imports” would find their way into the winners circle at Belmont Park and Del Mar.
Seeing potential and helping to develop it…. great qualities that Bobby Frankel saw in horses. These are qualities we should try to develop in ourselves.
Operations Manager, Midwest Communications-Wausau