Originally created 10/27/01

Frankel boasts strong contingent



NEW YORK - Having three favorites and two near-favorites among six horses in the Breeders' Cup doesn't guarantee trainer Bobby Frankel a great day.

Just ask Bob Baffert.

Baffert entered the 1999 event at Gulfstream Park with seven contenders, including three favorites and a second favorite.

His horses went 0-for-7.

Silverbulletday started off by finishing sixth in the Distaff, and Baffert's day sped downhill from there.

Favored Chilukki was second in the Juvenile Fillies; long shot Tuzla was second in the Mile; favored Forestry was fourth in the Sprint; favored Forest Camp was seventh in the Juvenile; and second-choice General Challenge was 10th and River Keen 11th in the Classic.

Baffert knows what Frankel is going through as the 60-year-old trainer prepares for today's World Thoroughbred Championships at Belmont Park.

"Frankel has been really waiting and pointing for this. He's in a good position. Just to be in that position is a great thing to accomplish," Baffert said.

Three of Frankel's horses are favorites in the early line - 2-1 Aptitude in the featured $4 million Classic, 8-5 You in the Juvenile Fillies and 5-2 Flute in the Distaff.

"I really believe she's the one that's going to break me through," Frankel said of Flute, who will run in the first of eight Breeders' Cup races.

The filly has helped mellow Frankel, who retains the brusqueness of his native New York despite being based in southern California since the early '70s.

"She's a really sweet filly," he said, speaking in a tone that indicates he's fallen for the 3-year-old sired by Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew. "She has a personality and is very kind. I got close with her. I don't get that close with many horses."

Frankel has two second picks - 5-1 Timboroa in the Turf and 5-1 Starine in the Filly & Mare Turf. He anted up $90,000 to supplement Starine. He also will saddle Squirtle Squirt, 10-1 in the Sprint.

"I know it's the strongest lineup I've ever had," he said Thursday.

Frankel, a Hall of Famer, will be trying to end an 0-for-36 streak in the Breeders' Cup at the same track where the Brooklyn native broke into horse racing as a teen-age hot walker.

"As long as I can win some races, I'll be happy," he said.

If Frankel feels pressure, he isn't letting on.

"I'm doing pretty good," he said. "I don't know how it's going to be the day of the race."

One thing Frankel doesn't have to worry about is his jockey. Jerry Bailey will ride Aptitude in the Classic, which Bailey has won a record-tying four times.

"He wants to win as badly as I do," Frankel said.

While the spotlight will be mostly on Frankel, Baffert has three chances to win. He'll saddle Officer in the Juvenile; Habibti in the Juvenile Fillies; and El Corredor in the Sprint.

Like Frankel, Baffert lamented the post positions assigned to his horses. Officer will break from the No. 2; Habibti from No. 1; and El Corredor from No. 10, the only one deemed OK by Baffert.

"That's what makes this Breeders' Cup so tough. You've got to get lucky, and there are so many horses," he said. "You can do everything right, but then you've got to deal with a bad draw."

Officer, who at 4-5 is the shortest-priced favorite among the 98 horses entered, is unbeaten in five starts. A victory would make him the champion 2-year-old and the early favorite for the Kentucky Derby.

"We're here hoping we won't mess it up," Baffert said. "We've been known to do that."