10/20/2005 11:00PM

BC F&M Turf: Frankel decides to take a shot


Not that Bobby Frankel never changes his mind, but for the longest time, the Hall of Fame trainer did not even consider Intercontinental for the $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

But then Intercontinental won the WinStar Galaxy at Keeneland, and then one of Frankel's other turf stars, Melhor Ainda, was ruled out of the Filly-Mare with an ankle injury. So then Frankel started thinking . . . .

"Intercontinental hasn't been getting all rank on us like she used to," he said. "I thought if we'd never tried a mile and a quarter with her, how would we know she can't get it? She's breaking good and can go right to the lead. After that, who knows?"

As a front-running miler, Intercontinental gives the 1 1/4-mile Filly-Mare an element it might not have had without her: a horse to insure an honest, if not outright rapid, tempo. Although Frankel and his staff, along with regular rider Jerry Bailey, have worked tirelessly in trying to get Intercontinental to relax during her training and in her races, there still remains a tendency for the mare to tug hard on the reins.

In several of her races this year, Intercontinental put those headstrong tendencies on full display, including the Royal Heroine at Hollywood and her two Del Mar races, the Mabee and Palomar handicaps. But she appeared to be relatively easy for Bailey to control in her front-running triumph in the Oct. 9 Galaxy at Keeneland, and Frankel is hoping she will be similarly accommodating on Breeders' Cup Day.

This time, however, it will be up to 23-year-old Rafael Bejarano to tame the psyche of Intercontinental, a 5-year-old Juddmonte Farms homebred who has won 12 of 21 races and more than $1.5 million. Bailey gave up the mount to ride Ouija Board, the Filly and Mare Turf's defending champion. Bejarano, said Frankel, "is one of the hottest young riders around. He rides with a lot of confidence."

Based on pedigree alone, it would be hard to blame Frankel for wanting to try Intercontinental in the Filly and Mare Turf. Her full sister Banks Hill (by Danehill out of Hasili) won this race in 2001, and their highly accomplished siblings include Heat Haze, who won the Beverly D. and earned nearly $1.2 million, and Dansili and Cacique, both of whom were multiple group winners.

Frankel further rationalized running Intercontinental in the Breeders' Cup by saying: "This is the very end of her career. She's been a great filly for us. She's earned a chance at this."