08/20/2012 2:26PM

Europe: Frankel going beyond a mile in Juddmonte International Stakes

Martin Lynch/Racing Post
Frankel will stretch out to 1 5/16 miles in the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes at York.

For all he has accomplished in his unbeaten 12-race career, Frankel has only run two distances – seven furlongs and a mile.

That will change Wednesday, when the 4-year-old Frankel starts at a middle distance for the first time in the Group 1, 1 5/16-mile Juddmonte International Stakes at York, England.

While the distance may be different, other trends are the same: Frankel will be a very heavy favorite. As of Monday, Frankel was 1-8 with British bookmakers to win the Juddmonte. The race is sponsored by Khalid Abdullah, the owner of Juddmonte Farms and the owner of Frankel.

Trained by Sir Henry Cecil, Frankel has raced a mile in his last seven starts, all Group 1 wins. This year, he has made three starts, winning the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury in May, the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, and the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood on Aug. 1.

In the Sussex, Frankel was the 1-20 favorite and faced just three rivals. He stalked a stablemate who set the pace for the first five furlongs, took the lead with a quarter-mile remaining, and won by six lengths with ease.

“He has grown up a lot mentally and took it all like a true professional,” Cecil said on his website after the Sussex. “The idea was to be as easy as we could with him as it was a warm-up to the Juddmonte International at York.”

Already considered one of history’s finest milers, Frankel will merit respect among Europe’s middle-distance runners should he live up to expectations in the Juddmonte. Tom Queally, Frankel’s regular rider, has the mount Wednesday.

The Juddmonte will be Frankel’s first start at York.

Cecil has three starters in the Juddmonte, including pacesetter Bullet Train and multiple stakes winner Twice Over, who was third in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita. Farhh, second in the Sussex Stakes, and St Nicholas Abbey, winner of the BC Turf at Churchill Downs last fall, also are part of a field of nine.

St Nicholas Abbey, trained by Aidan O’Brien, is the biggest threat to Frankel. A 5-year-old, he won the Group 1 Coronation Cup at Epsom in June and was third in the Grade 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot last month.

◗ Earlier on the York program, Noble Mission, Frankel’s 3-year-old full brother, starts in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes for 3-year-olds over 1 1/2 miles. The Great Voltigeur is a prep to the Group 1 St. Leger Stakes at Doncaster on Sept. 15.