10/04/2001 11:00PM

Two BC maidens ready to break through


ARCADIA, Calif. - By now, every little schoolchild in every corner of the land is aware that Bobby Frankel has never won a Breeders' Cup race, and that if he doesn't win one this year he'll probably jump off the Triborough Bridge. Or something like that.

Now let's turn the prism just a bit. Three of Frankel's prime candidates - Flute, Aptitude, and Senure - are owned by Saudi Arabian Prince Khalid Abdullah, whose Juddmonte Farm has ranked among the world's leading owners for the past 20 years. Abdullah's colors have been carried by such grand animals as Dancing Brave, Known Fact, Rousillon, Ryafan, Quest for Fame, and Exbourne.

Abdullah has been winning major American races since 1984, when Alphabatim took the Hollywood Turf Cup. He has won Eclipse Awards as both an owner and a breeder. He has owned two Epsom Derby winners and two American champions, and his horses have been good enough to show up for Breeders' Cup events 30 times.

He also has the same Breeders' Cup record as Frankel.

"It's not really the object of the exercise," said Dr. John Chandler, who is Juddmonte's North American racing manager. "So it's not as though there's a gaping hole in the trophy case. There's plenty in there already. But there's no question we'd like to fill that spot. It's obviously one of the last great things we'd like to win."

Only about a third of the Juddmonte Breeders' Cup runners have been trained by Frankel. The closest they came was Honest Lady's narrow loss to Kona Gold in the 2000 Sprint at Churchill Downs. The rest have come from Abdullah's vast European operation, some 300 horses strong, fed by his breeding farms in England, Ireland, and Kentucky. There is rarely a weekend when the Juddmonte silks don't see major action.

Still, Chandler can be forgiven if he is getting caught up in the Frankel avalanche of 2001 as the Breeders' Cup approaches. Chandler was planning to be at Belmont Park on Saturday to watch Flute and Aptitude in action, which will force him to miss Skimming's race on Sunday at Santa Anita in the $500,000 Goodwood Handicap against Tiznow.

"I think Bobby is particularly fond of the two horses in New York," Chandler said Friday from his Kentucky office. "And that's because nobody else has ever trained them."

Most of the horses that Frankel has trained for Juddmonte began their careers in Europe. Only a handful have been sent to California directly from the farm as late yearlings and 2-year-olds.

"I remember one prominent California owner who called Frankel a 'Cadillac trainer,' a trainer who gets 'made' horses," Chandler said. "Well, you can hardly call Skimming a made horse when he got him. And he's had Aptitude and Flute since they were yearlings."

Skimming had very little going for him when he hit these shores as a 4-year-old, other than a trace of form on all-weather English tracks. Now age 6, Skimming, a son of Nureyev, has won the last two runnings of the Pacific Classic and stands squarely in Tiznow's path to the Breeders' Cup Classic on Sunday.

Whether or not Skimming will join the Juddmonte troops for the Breeders' Cup remains to be seen. He did not run well at Belmont last year, despite his sharp form in California. In fact, Chandler worries whenever Skimming runs anywhere other than Del Mar.

"There are some horses that really sparkle at Del Mar," Chandler noted. "I hate to say this on the eve of a major race like the Goodwood, but Skimming's one of them, isn't he?"

Neither Frankel nor Chandler are the kind of men who need to be hit over the head twice to get the point. Skimming could pass the Breeders' Cup and still remain in training next year. In any case, Chandler will defer to Frankel's judgment.

"I've been in the horse business all my life," Chandler noted. "The secret of whatever success I've had is this: If you have somebody doing something for you, don't tell them how to do it. I don't train horses for a living, so I never try to tell any of my trainers what to do or when to do it.

"I know that if a horse is off for a couple of days and then is suddenly going sound again, everything is not all right. There's something going on. And that's where Bobby shines.

"He's a very caring trainer. If a horse looks at him sideways and says, 'There's something wrong with me,' he doesn't say, 'Well, you'll be okay tomorrow. We'll give you a day off.' He's not a horse whisperer. He's a horse listener."

And that never changes - with or without a Breeders' Cup trophy.

"There are trainers who have won Breeders' Cup races before, that I bet would trade all those Cups for the year Bobby's had this year," Chandler added. "But right now, I think he could hit the target blindfolded."