08/20/2001 12:00AM

All in a weekend's work for Frankel


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Although he probably could have floated cross-country, trainer Bobby Frankel left Saratoga Monday morning to catch a plane back to San Diego to check on his California string at Del Mar.

"I got up at 3 a.m. to pack so I'll be having some good dreams on the way home," a sleepy-eyed Frankel said before leaving.

Frankel was still on a high Monday from his stable's fantastic weekend. On Sunday, Frankel won three races from four starters at Del Mar - including the $1 million Pacific Classic with Skimming - and the $300,000 Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap at Saratoga. Those wins came 20 minutes apart and 24 hours after Flute won the Grade 1 Alabama for 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga.

All totaled, Frankel horses, earned $1,305,195 over the weekend and pushed his season earnings to $8,153,971, second only to Bob Baffert.

Because all of the horses were first or second choices in the wagering, Frankel wasn't totally surprised that he had such a successful weekend.

"Aptitude was the only one I was worried about," said Frankel, whose only disappointment of the weekend was Senure's eighth-place finish in Saturday's Arlington Million. "[Aptitude] was carrying 122 pounds and those horses [getting seven pounds] were running close to Lido Palace and Albert the Great. He ran a fantastic race. He looks like he's back. He blew by them."

Frankel believes the addition of blinkers - which he first wore in the Hollywood Gold Cup - combined with the different surface of the East Coast tracks have helped Aptitude immensely.

"I thought he would [run better] on these tracks, that's why I brought him back here," Frankel said. "The footing's better. I had a filly named Keeper Hill and she couldn't run a yard at Hollywood. Then she got back here and started winning Group 1's."

Frankel said Aptitude's performance earned him a spot in the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont on Oct. 6. It also means Lido Palace, Frankel's Whitney winner, will run in the Woodward at Belmont on Sept. 8. Jerry Bailey will ride Lido Palace in that race.

Following the Saratoga Cup, Frankel bolted for racing secretary Mike Lakow's office where he watched Skimming roll to a 5 1/2-length victory in the Pacific Classic. It was Skimming's second straight Pacific Classic and Frankel's sixth.

Frankel said he was shocked that Skimming wasn't favored in the Pacific Classic. He was the second choice, just behind Futural. "I honestly thought he'd be 4-5," Frankel said.

Frankel said Skimming would stay in California and not be pointed to the Breeders' Cup Classic. He may run next in the $500,000 Goodwood at Santa Anita on Oct. 7.

Also Sunday at Del Mar, the Frankel-trained Tates Creek romped to a four-length victory in the $76,425 Finlandia Cup Handicap for 3-year-old fillies on turf. Frankel may point her to the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland on Oct. 13. Frankel also won a maiden race with Roam Free, a daughter of Unbridled.

Flute came out of her Alabama win in good order, according to Frankel, and if she were to run her before the Breeders' Cup Distaff it would be in the $750,000 Beldame on Oct. 6.

Frankel has enjoyed a tremendous Saratoga meet, winning with seven of 15 starters with four graded-stakes victories. And he is far from finished. Frankel will be represented in several more stakes the last two weeks.

Saturday, he will send out Harrisand in the $1 million Travers, Squirtle Squirt in the $200,000 King's Bishop, and Sumitas in the $200,000 Fourstardave Handicap, although he's hoping that one comes off the turf. Later in the meet, he will send out Starine in the $500,000 Diana Handicap.

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