11/16/2009 1:00AM

Torre witness to Frankel's soft side


A shared passion for horse racing, baseball, and dogs cemented the friendship of trainer Bobby Frankel and Joe Torre, the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who called Frankel "a very giving person" on Monday after learning of Frankel's death earlier in the day.

"He was such a private person," Torre said via telephone from New York, where he was preparing to board a plane in order to attend Frankel's memorial service on Tuesday in Los Angeles. "He didn't let a lot of people in. I felt privileged that he let me into his inner circle. Rick Dutrow introduced us, and I instantly liked him. We just hit it off and became very close. He was a dog lover, like I am."

Torre owned a handful of horses in partnership with Frankel, the most notable being Vineyard Haven, who won the Champagne Stakes in 2008 and subsequently was sold to Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin Racing.

But their friendship extended beyond the racetrack. When Torre was hired as the manager of the Dodgers, his family was still in New York, where he had managed the Yankees. Frankel, who split his stable between New York and California, was living in New York that spring and allowed Torre to live in his Pacific Palisades, Calif., home until the school year ended and Torre's family moved to Los Angeles.

"He was so kind," Torre said. "I lived in his house for three or four months. He was just a very giving person. And a very honest individual. He was a very deep individual. One of the things I liked about him is that in a business where everybody likes to blast and brag, he was at the other end."

Frankel was known for having strong opinions, yet Torre said Frankel never questioned anything Torre did as a baseball manager.

"In his eyes, I never did anything wrong," Torre said, laughing. "He was so kind."