04/28/2011 1:04PM

Frankel looks formidable in 2000 Guineas at Newmarket


Frankel may be the shortest-priced favorite in more than 35 years when he starts in Saturday’s 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, England.

Apalachee was 4-9 when he finished third in 1974, four years after Nijinsky won at odds of 4-7. As of Thursday, Frankel was available with British bookmakers at odds as short of 4-9 to remain unbeaten in his sixth start.

A win would confirm Frankel’s status as one of the most exceptional 3-year-old milers in England in recent years, and set the tone for the rest of the 2011 European season.

The joint 2-year-old champion of 2010 and named for Bobby Frankel, the late American Hall of Fame trainer, Frankel will make his second start of the year in the 2000 Guineas, having won the Group 3 Greenham Stakes over seven furlongs by four lengths at Newbury, England, on April 16.

From trainer Henry Cecil’s perspective, the prep race has left Frankel in top condition for the Guineas, which has drawn a field of 13.

“At Newbury, Frankel was ready for a race,” Cecil said in a press conference on Tuesday. “I’ve trained him for the Guineas and I’d like to think that he’ll be a much better horse on Saturday.

“I do admire people who go to Newmarket first time out on Guineas day and win it. I’ve never really had the confidence to do that. I always feel that you have to work them that little bit harder at home, which I don’t like doing, and I feel that after a long winter horses benefit from a race, and a race is probably worth two or three pieces of work.”

Owned and bred by Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms, which had massive success with Bobby Frankel in the United States, Frankel has won three group stakes. Last October, Frankel won the Group 2 Dewhurst Stakes over seven furlongs at Newmarket, his final start of the year.

Prior to that race, Frankel won the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes over a mile by 10 lengths at Ascot last September.

Cecil will be after his third 2000 Guineas win, and first since Wollow in 1976. He said Frankel is capable of setting the pace, but the role is likely to go to the Juddmonte-owned Rerouted, trained by Barry Hills.

“He does have this extraordinary stride,” Cecil said of Frankel. “He does not put his hind legs too far underneath him, but he seems to cover an awful lot of ground with his front legs. If they go just a normal gallop, he is slightly restricted. He’ll be more relaxed if you let him go and use himself the way he wants to. That’s why you wouldn’t fight him, if the pace were wrong.”

The biggest threats to Frankel are from Ireland - Roderic O’Connor, who is trained by Aidan O’Brien and was second in the Dewhurst last fall; and Pathfork, unraced this year but the winner of three races last year.