11/05/2003 1:00AM

Frankel's BC flop remains a mystery


PHILADELPHIA - It seemed rather ominous when Bobby Frankel said the Breeders' Cup made him nervous and he would be happy if he could win one race. It was as if the trainer who wins all the other important races somehow knew what was about to go down at Santa Anita.

More than a week after Breeders' Cup Day at Santa Anita on Oct. 25, there still seems no plausible explanation for how so many of Frankel's horses could go so far off form at the same time. On the 12-race card, Frankel saddled five favorites. Only Medaglia d'Oro, a terrific second in the Classic, finished better than fourth. The average finish for the Frankel favorites was sixth.

Frankel ran 10 horses on the card, one in the race before the Distaff and another two races after the Classic. Three ran right to their normal form. Six ran nowhere near what their form suggested. In the BC Sprint, Aldebaran actually ran much closer to his normal form than it might have appeared yet finished sixth.

When favored Nasty Storm finished last in the Very Subtle Handicap with no apparent excuse, that was the tip that it was time to get away from Frankel. The players did not heed the warning.

Nasty Storm's last three Beyers were 95-100-91. She fell way off form and got a 70.

There was more than $1 million bet to win on Sightseek in the Distaff. And why not? Her previous three Beyers were 107-115-110. If she ran even close to those numbers, she almost had to win. She finished fourth and got an 84.

To be fair, the entire Distaff field, with the exception of winner Adoration, went dramatically off form. It was one of the more bizarre races in recent years. The other six horses were anywhere from nine to 23 Beyer points off their most recent efforts. If you didn't know better, you would suspect it was a boat race.

Take Charge Lady, for instance, never runs a bad race - except the three times she has run in Breeders' Cup races. That, and the 2003 Distaff in general really makes no sense.

Peace Rules was favored in the Mile. I am not sure which was stranger - that he was favored or the fact that this horse, who never ran a really poor race, finished last.

Peace Rules had earned Beyers of 105-110-98 in his last three dirt starts. As a 2-year-old, he had earned Beyers of 102-99-88-87 on grass. In the Mile, Peace Rules got a 71.

If you ignore Aldebaran's freaky 122 in the Forego, his previous three Beyers going into the Sprint were 105-101-110. The six-furlong distance, it is now clear, was way too short for him. Aldebaran was just getting started when the Sprint was over. Under the circumstances, his 105 for finishing sixth was about right.

Midas Eyes had Beyers of 111-105-110 in his three starts for Frankel. He got a 96 when eighth in the Sprint, but the hot pace and the fact that the colt had not raced in nearly five months were certainly mitigating factors.

Heat Haze and Megahertz were fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Filly and Mare Turf. Heat Haze's last three Beyers were 101-104-105. She got a 104. Megahertz had gotten Beyers of 104-99-104. She got a 103. The super consistent Tates Creek had last-race Beyers of 107-103-107. She finished eighth and got a 98.

Medaglia d'Oro ran a winning race. Never getting a breather in a hot pace duel with Congaree, Medaglia d'Oro was absolutely primed to win. Coming off Beyers of 118-114-111, he got a 117 in defeat.

Nose the Trade was in the Seabiscuit Handicap. His last three Beyers were 104-100-103. He finished seventh and got a 92.

Frankel's accomplishments speak for themselves. He's won just about every race worth winning. He wins at a very high percentage in the most difficult races to win. His last four years are unprecedented at the top levels of the game.

But he is now 2 for 57 in the Breeders' Cup. That no longer is an aberration. That qualifies as a trend. Why? Now, that is the difficult question.