Updated on 06/22/2012 1:58PM

Royal Ascot: Frankel dominates Queen Anne Stakes

Email
Martin Lynch/Racing Post
Frankel pulls away to an 11-length romp in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Imagine the New York Yankees playing a semi-pro team from rural Wisconsin, and you will get an idea what Frankel is doing to the other milers who have dared face him in England.

Frankel started in the first race of the 2012 Royal Ascot season Tuesday, the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes, and quickly put his indelible stamp on the five-day meeting, storming to an 11-length victory over Excelebration. The Queen Anne probably was the best race of Frankel’s illustrious career and certainly ranks among the top one-mile performances seen anywhere in a long, long time. Timeform, the prominent English racing company, assigned Frankel a rating of 147, the highest in the company’s history, which dates to 1948.

“He’s just amazing,” jockey Tom Queally said in a post-race press conference.

Frankel has now won all 11 of his starts, seven at the Group 1 level, and his two wins this year at age 4 have appeared especially dominant. Excelebration, a Group 1 winner in his own right, has lost five times to Frankel, but never has been so thoroughly humbled as on Tuesday.

“It looks like he’s getting better,” Queally said. “I didn’t think it was possible, but he is.”

The World Thoroughbred Rankings already had Frankel pegged as the best horse on the planet before the Queen Anne, and it would be no surprise if his performance Tuesday improved his rating of 138. And now, as promised by his connections, the time appears ripe for Frankel to finally take at least a small step outside his firmly established comfort zone and try something new.

Plans for Frankel’s next start haven’t been firmly set, but the 1 1/4-mile Eclipse Stakes on July 7 at Sandown Park seems like the leading candidate. Frankel has yet to race beyond one mile, and despite his authoritative performances up to eight furlongs, there remains skepticism from some quarters concerning Frankel’s ability to translate his brilliance into longer races. Moreover, there are probably a handful of stronger 1 1/4-mile horses roaming Europe this year than milers, and Frankel could face somewhat sterner opposition.

Henry Cecil, who trains Frankel for owner-breeder Juddmonte Farms, attempted to let Frankel’s performance Tuesday speak for itself.

“He is a great horse, and you’ve seen him for yourself, so everybody can form their own opinion,” Cecil said.

Cecil said he felt more relief than anything at the Queen Anne result.

“There’s no such thing as a certainty,” he said.

What does seem increasingly certain is that Frankel will not cross the Atlantic. Cecil has steadily downplayed the possibility of Frankel racing in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup, and he threw more cold water on that idea Tuesday, calling Frankel’s participation “very unlikely.”

The Queen Anne outcome offered little suspense once Frankel, who had been racing in fourth position, came out of a pocket with about three furlongs left to run. Nudging Excelebration out of the way for a clear path, Frankel and Queally moved to take the lead, and while Excelebration counter-punched when attacked, a knockout blow soon landed, with Frankel taking a lead of several lengths to the furlong grounds and widening with every stride. The winning margin was Frankel’s largest since he captured a conditions race in the second start of his career in 2010. Time for the mile over good-to-soft going was 1:37.85. Excelebration finished a neck in front of Side Glance, with Indomito third.

Little Bridge wins King’s Stand

In other major Ascot races Tuesday, Hong Kong invader Little Bridge captured the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes over five furlongs, while Most Improved held off Hermival to win the Group 1 St. James’s Palace Stakes.

Little Bridge, a 6-year-old who never had won at the Group 1 level, became the second Hong Kong-based horse to win at Royal Ascot.

The St. James’s was marred by the fatal breakdown of The Nile, another Juddmonte runner. When The Nile went wrong at the top of the homestretch, he threw several horses off stride, including the favored Aidan O’Brien-trained runner, Power.