Updated on 09/15/2011 12:49PM

Big races, big horses - it's Frankel time

Michael J. Marten/Horsephotos
Trainer Bobby Frankel is readying an assault on major stakes. "I think I'm very alive in all the races," he said.

DEL MAR, Calif. - It was about this time one year ago that trainer Bobby Frankel began his annual assault on the nation's major stakes races. He won the Pacific Classic and the Arlington Million, victories that helped propel the Hall of Fame trainer to an Eclipse Award. It was the Summer of Bobby.

The sequel is coming to tracks nationwide this weekend. Frankel has major contenders in five important stakes at three tracks, including defending champion Skimming in Sunday's $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar. Frankel will seek a second straight Million victory on Saturday, hoping Senure follows in the footsteps of Chester House.

Frankel also has The Seven Seas in the $750,000 Beverly D. Stakes on the Million undercard. And at Saratoga this weekend, Frankel runs Kentucky Oaks winner Flute in Saturday's $700,000 Alabama Stakes, and Aptitude, the Hollywood Gold Cup winner, in Sunday's $300,000 Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap.

In total, that's $3.75 million worth of races. Frankel already is on a roll, having won the La Jolla Handicap at Del Mar last Saturday with Marine and the Adirondack Stakes on Monday at Saratoga with You. And it's not as if he has been slacking off until now. Frankel's horses have earned more than $6.6 million this year, placing him second nationally to Bob Baffert.

But the summer is when Frankel shines.

"There's bad weather at Santa Anita in the winter, so I try to get them ready for the middle and the end of the year, when the big money comes out," Frankel said Tuesday. "I think I'm very live in all the races. Hopefully they'll run good, like I think they can run."

Frankel, who is based in Southern California but has 17 horses in New York this summer, has been in Saratoga this week, and will remain there at least through Saturday to saddle Flute in the Alabama. His top assistant, Humberto Ascanio, will go to Arlington for the Million and Beverly D. Frankel is not sure if he will remain at Saratoga Sunday for Aptitude's race, or head back to Del Mar to see Skimming.

Frankel has been dominant in the Pacific Classic, which he has won five times in its 10 runnings. The speedy Skimming is unbeaten at Del Mar. Last year, he won both the San Diego Handicap and Pacific Classic. He is halfway toward completing that double this year, having won the San Diego on July 29.

"He likes the track," Frankel said. "It's a horses-for-courses track, and he runs good there. Maybe it's the footing, maybe it's the salt air. He can get a mile and a quarter at Del Mar because he likes the track, so he can run a little farther. He runs the turns good, and the wire's right in front of him," Frankel added, referring to Del Mar's relatively short stretch.

Senure will have to beat such top horses as Bienamado and Hap in the Million, but Frankel said he believes Senure is up to the challenge. "He's doing really well. With the turn of foot he has, he's got a real good chance," Frankel said.

Senure missed the first part of the year in large part because of a breathing problem, but he has breathed fire since returning. He most recently was placed first on the disqualification of With Anticipation in the United Nations Handicap. When With Anticipation ran last weekend in the Sword Dancer Handicap at Saratoga, Frankel got down. "I bet $150 to win on him," Frankel said. With Anticipation paid $14.60.

Both Senure and Skimming began their careers in Europe, but neither was anywhere close to this good overseas.

"Sometimes you get Group 1 horses that can't outrun me, and sometimes you get Group 3 horses or handicap horses that step up," Frankel said. "You probably could have bought Senure for a ham sandwich before he got here."

Like Senure, Aptitude won his last start via disqualification. Aptitude went to Saratoga, Frankel said, because he believes that track better suits Aptitude's late-running style than Del Mar, which Frankel said favors front-runners like Skimming. And since Aptitude and Skimming are both owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms, it was more prudent to try to divide and conquer.

Of all his horses, however, Frankel holds a special place for Flute. And it's not just because the 3-year-old filly, who Frankel said "could be the best filly I've had on dirt," has the best chance of Frankel's horses of earning a year-end Eclipse Award. His attachment is more visceral.

"She's so sweet to be around," Frankel said. "She'll nuzzle you. She rests her head on your shoulder. She'll play with you all day long. Everybody loves her. Sometimes I feel like I'm not giving her enough attention.

"I fell in love with her a long time ago," Frankel said. "If I paid as much attention to the girls I go out with, I'd keep them a lot longer."

Go to Del Mar coverage.