07/01/2003 11:00PM

Bailey and Frankel like Ruth and Gehrig


PHILADELPHIA - As the second half of the year begins, let's review. It has taken only six months for Bobby Frankel and Jerry Bailey to clinch their 100th consecutive Eclipse Awards. Some might want to consider Barclay Tagg and Jose Santos. And that would be fine. Still, it appears Frankel and Bailey once again are going to have overwhelming numbers at year's end.

Frankel had won just 64 races through July 1. And almost half were graded stakes. His horses have already racked up $9.8 million in earnings. He is winning with a ridiculously high 33 percent of his starters.

Bailey had 102 wins at the midway point. His mounts have won a cool $10.3 million. He's winning with 26 percent of his mounts.

So how do they do it?

Well, Bailey appears to see the replay of a race before it is run. How does he know? He just does. It is why he makes so few mistakes and always seems to be in perfect position.

Frankel's success is sometimes more difficult to understand. Yes, he has access to great stock. Yes, he never races them before their time. Yes, he looks at races like a great horseplayer.

Still, how do you explain, for instance, Midas Eyes and Spoken Fur?

Midas Eyes was a promising 2-year-old last summer in Florida. The colt had earned consecutive Beyers of 84. Frankel acquired him privately. Seven months later, Midas Eyes returned in a stakes race and got a 110 Beyer. And nobody will be surprised if he wins out the rest of the year, culminating with a victory in the Breeders' Cup Sprint or wherever Frankel tries him.

Spoken Fur took five starts to win her maiden. She had won three straight starts when she was turned over to Frankel. Her Beyers were gradually improving. She got an 85, followed by an 86 and then a 90.

Three weeks after entering Frankel's barn, Spoken Fur was entered in the Grade 1 Mother Goose Stakes. She blew past the field, won by more than five lengths, and got a 104 Beyer.

Spoken Fur was clearly improving when Frankel got her. Contrary to popular opinion, Frankel really is not conservative with his horses. When he thinks a horse is ready for a top effort, he never wastes it in an allowance race. He looks for the money and goes for it. Thus, Spoken Fur's first stakes appearance was in a Grade 1.

Frankel is routinely praised as a genius. Anybody that can so dominate his chosen profession as Frankel has dominated horse racing the last few years may very well be a genius.

He is certainly no overnight sensation. It may be as simple as it appears. A great trainer gets horses with great pedigrees or great upsides late in his career and wins just about everything.

Still, you wonder what the reaction would be if Scott Lake, Mark Shuman, or Cole Norman were winning all these graded stakes. When one of them wins with a horse that improves 20 of 30 Beyer points overnight, all the "experts" seem to know why.

If Frankel is a genius with major stakes horses, why aren't Lake, Shuman and Norman geniuses with lesser horses?

Perhaps it is because Frankel has been around for so long and won so much that it is expected. Nothing one of his horses does should be a surprise. Those are not unreasonable arguments.

Still, those of us who toil in the Beyer world have to marvel from time to time. Is this game really as easy as Frankel and his horses have made it look in the 2000's? Apparently.