09/10/2010 2:08PM

Bobby Frankel, Favorite for the Epsom Derby


A horse called Frankel, named for the late, great trainer, is the favorite for next year's Epsom Derby after his breathtaking 13-length victory in a 7-furlong conditions race at Doncaster on Friday.

Not surpisingly, the Thoroughbred Frankel is owned by Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms, for whom Bobby trained many, many big race winners. By Epsom Derby, Irish Derby and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Galileo out of the Danehill mare Kind, herself the winner of British listed races at 5 and 6 furlongs, Frankel is a three quarters brother to last year's Group 3 Lingfield Derby Trial winner Bullet Train.
A February foal, he made his debut for trainer Henry Cecil a winning one with a handy score in a one-mile Newmarket maiden on August 13. His winning margin of a half-length was deceptive as he was hardly off the bridal throughout, despite having missed the break.
On Friday he was beating only two rivals as the 1-2 favorite, leading on the bit approaching the furlong marker and galloping clear with authority. His time of 1:24.83 was quite good considering the short field and the prevailing good ground.
The bookies were so impressed, they propelled him into Epsom Derby favoritism on their antepost markets. Totesport quotes him at 8-1 and also makes him the 8-1 favorite for the 2000 Guineas. At Coral he is their 10-1 Derby favorite, at William Hill 12-1, but at Ladbrokes he is a more conservative 20-1 Derby co-favorite with Godolphin's Saamidd, a 7-length Newbury maiden winner who runs in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster on Saturday.
Cecil has nominated Frankel to both the one-mile, Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes at Ascot on Sept. 25 and the one-mile, Group 1 Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster on Oct. 23. Anyone who ever backed a Bobby Frankel winner- and that is all of us- should be keeping their fingers crossed for this horse. The longest price I ever hit was the 95-1 I got at Belmont Park on the Frankel-trained Marquetry, also owned by Juddmonte, in the 1991 Hollywood Gold Cup in the days before pools were co-mingled. I've been a fan of both Frankel and Juddmonte ever since.
Khalid Abdullah has honored the man by naming this exciting prospect after him. We should all get on the bandwagon.

*A 2-year-old colt with a live American connection is raising eyebrows in France. Moonlight Cloud, owned and bred by George Strawbridge, won for the second time without defeat at Longchamp on Thursday, prompting his trainer Freddy Head to exclaim that "he is the best 2-year-old I have ever trained."
The occasion was the Prix des Melezes, a 7-furlong conditions race which Moonlight Cloud won by a handy 6 lengths. Content to sit near the backend of the 6-runner field, the British-bred son of Invincible Spirit cruised to the lead at the quarter-pole and hardly turned a hair while romping clear. He had previously broken his maiden at first asking on August 15 going 6 1/2 furlongs on the Deauville Fibresand surface.
Head, who of course also trains 2-time Breeders' Cup Mile winner Goldikova, will run Moonlight Cloud in the 7-furlong, Group 1 Prix Jean Luc-Lagardere on Arc Day, Oct. 3, the same day he saddles Goldikova for her Mile prep in the Prix de la Foret.
There is a precednet for Head's tactics with Moonlight Cloud, who is a half brother to Sunset Handicap runner-up Cedar Mountain. Two years ago Head won the Prix des Melezes with Naaqoos, who promptly went on to win the Jean-Luc Lagardere.
Moonlight Cloud's presence at Longchamp gives his Pennsylvania-based owner Starwbridge an excuse to be in Paris the first week of October, as if an excuse were needed.
Many of Strawbridge's best horses in recent years have been based in either England or France. His John Gosden-trained Lucarno won the classic St. Leger Stakes in 2007, while Montare, trained in France by Jonathan Pease, won the 2006 French St. Leger, or Prix Royal-Oak, in addition to three Group 2 races. And then there is Gosden-trained Rainbow View, his undefeated European 2-year-old filly champion of 2008.
Pigeonholed at Longchamp one Arc Weekend a few years ago, Strawbridge explained his affection for European racing: "They appreciate stamina here and don't race on Lasix or bute."