Updated on 09/16/2011 8:33AM

Frankel beats his best client with Starine

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Starine is clear coming down the stretch, an easy 1 1/2-length winner of the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf Saturday at Arlington Park.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Bobby Frankel finally shook his long Breeders' Cup training jinx last year when Squirtle Squirt won the Sprint, but as an owner, the wait was a lot shorter. Starine, trained and owned by Frankel, scored a surprisingly easy win Saturday in the , beating another Frankel-trained horse, Banks Hill, who narrowly held second in a roughly run edition of the race.

Even with Squirtle Squirt, Frankel was only 1 for 42 in Cup races, and after Beat Hollow's disappointing sixth-place finish in the Mile, Frankel wondered if a new streak had begun.

"I said, 'Oh no, another Breeders' Cup.' I was getting worried," Frankel said.

An hour later, breaking into a wide grin, Frankel strode alone across the Arlington paddock on the way to the winner's circle, his mood considerably lightened.

"It's a little bittersweet, too," Frankel joked, "because my best client, I just beat. I might not have a job tomorrow."

Frankel's best client is the powerful Juddmonte Farms, whose Banks Hill was transferred to his barn this month. Banks Hill was expected to scratch if the race was run on soft turf, but on a course rated yielding she was given a chance.

Jockey Jerry Bailey said Banks Hill struggled, gutting out a second-place finish despite the going, but Starine specializes in wet courses and she skipped over the ground. Barely restrained by jockey John Velazquez, she tracked the pace of Kazzia and Chopinina and swept to victory in upper stretch.

"I couldn't ask for a better trip," Velazquez said. "I kind of let her do her own thing down the backstretch. When I called on her, she was there. She's just that much better on the soft turf."

Breaking from post 11, Starine avoided the trouble that plagued much of the field. Islington may have taken the worst of things. Sandwiched coming out of the gate, she was steadied for much of the stretch, and ran valiantly to finish third.

Golden Apples, the 5-2 favorite who wound up fourth, also had a tough trip, getting slammed at the start and racing very wide on the far turn. "It's disappointing," said trainer Ben Cecil. "She got hit so hard."

Kazzia crossed over from an outside post and set fractions of 24.42 seconds for a quarter-mile and 49.15 for a half. Chopinina tracked Kazzia, with Starine tracking in fourth. Kazzia held a clear lead to the stretch, but quickly gave way, with Starine accelerating to lead at the stretch call. She was well clear in the final furlong, and the only battle was for second.

Starine, who earned $665,600, paid $28.40 to win and was timed in 2:03.57 for 1 1/4 miles.

Starine is one of the few horses that Frankel owns. Based in France early in her career, Starine raced several times in low-level races at provincial tracks. Said Frankel, "When she came for sale, [a bloodstock agent] said to buy her." Frankel paid $150,000, and when he put Starine up for sale after a good American debut, there were no takers.

A sensational win in the Diana Handicap made Starine a contender for the 2001 Filly and Mare Turf, to which she was supplemented for $90,000. But Starine was a bad 10th that day, and almost lost her chance at redemption early this year when her physical condition deteriorated.

"She pulled up bad on me twice," Frankel said. "We did a nuclear scan and couldn't find anything. If the scan wouldn't have looked good, that might've been it."

Instead, Starine went back into training, and her comeback race, a close fifth in the Flower Bowl, encouraged Frankel to push on to the Breeders' Cup.