Jul 27, 2010


This is a Del Mar story. Actually, it is a Bobby Frankel story that happens to take place at Del Mar.

In the summer of 1983 the first horse I ever bred was ready to race at Hollywood Park.
My trainer of choice was Bobby Frankel. I was a little daunted by his gruff demeanor but I was looking for a trainer who was a consistent winner with any kind of horse. I wasn't even sure he'd want to take on a British Columbia-bred maiden claimer named Bold Runaway .

I had only one request of Frankel: Let me know if we can win a bet.

"Maybe, maybe not," he told me when we met in the paddock at Hollywood Park. I took that as a "no" and made only a modest wager of support rather than conviction.
We ran second.
Three weeks later we were at Del Mar where terse instructions told me "bet your money".

My life at that time was embroiled in an unpleasant and costly divorce. My two children joined me for the trek from Santa Barbara. I was so sure that Bold Runaway would win that I plunked down a four-figure win bet. Not very clever, I realize, to drive a horse's odds down to 6-t0-5 on the nose. But I had blind faith in Frankel at that time and I needed a winner to boost my morale as well as that of Shannon and Josh.

Bold Runaway walked her beat under Martin Pedroza and,
after cashing my tickets, we went back to the barn to bid her adieu before the long ride home. To my dismay what I saw was my filly walking lame.

On the way out of the barn I bumped into Bobby. "Did you see your filly?
" he said, smiling.

"I think she's gone lame," I said. "Please have the vet look her over."

He muttered something to himself that sounded like "everybody's a trainer these days" and strode away.

The next morning, however, Bobby was on the phone with news that Bold Runaway had indeed suffered a slab fracture of her knee. The news was not unexpected so I paused, wondering what to do next, when Bobby asked what I planned to do with her.

"I'm not sure," I said. "Try to find her a good home."

"Would you take fifteen for her?" he said.

By that time I did not know if he meant fifteen hundred, fifteen thousand or fifteen cents. I knew enough about horse dealing to not make the first bid.

"I have a season to the top quarter horse stallion in America,"he explained. "I'll give you $15,000 for your filly and breed her."

Since I figured she was worth $1000, tops, I jumped at the offer while, at the same time, wondering which of us was loco. The sharpest guy in racing overpaying tenfold for a filly with no pedigree and a broken knee.

Bobby knew of my domestic disorder and seemed charmed by Shannon and Josh as only 5 and 10-year-olds can do. For years I wondered what his motive for that gesture represented. I didn't bring it up, perhaps in fear that he might want the money back.

Many years later I was in a group of horsemen, Frankel among them,
kibitzing at a Saratoga charity function. A couple glasses of wine loosened my tongue and I told the story for the first time outside my immediate family.

"Why, Bobby, why"? I asked.

He just smiled.

Jul 26, 2010


Somebody had to be second last Saturday in the Lady's Secret at Monmouth Park.

Queen Martha didn't scare Rachel Alexandra much but a tidy sum of $80,000 was more than worth the effort. The dam of Queen Martha was the good stakes producer' Cryptoqueen which I had purchased for John Franks some years back. She was a well-made yearling but a touch on the small side. I paid $22,000 for her but she was one of those fillies who did not grow much and thus had a modest racing career.Bred to the home stallion Lucky North, Cryptoqueen produced the very good stakes mare Clearly A Queen.

Our handiwork was evident in various quarters of late. Two brilliant juveniles surfaced, Wine Police and Roxy Gap, both by the surging third-year stallion Speightstown which yours truly bought as a $2million yearling. Furthermore, I purchased the dam of Roxy Gap (the stakes-placed Harts Gap) and sold the dam of Wine Police under the Four Star Sales banner.

Another Speightstown rising star is Jersey-based Spiteful Gypsy. I sold the dam, SW Leo's Gypsy Dancer for the Purse Strings Stable, a conglomerate of 17 women from Louisville. I earned my 5 % on that occasion I can assure you.

If this sounds a bit self-serving that's because it is. Remember: it's not bragging if you can do it. When you are ready to step back into the fray keep that in mind.


Canadians consider Strawberry Morn as one of the finest racemares ever seen in the Western province of British Columbia. The benchmark for greatness in that remote locale is to head South to take on the high class mares at Santa Anita, Hollywood Park and Del Mar.

I played a cameo role in arranging Strawberry Morn's transfer to the barn of Jenine Sahadi. She placed in a few starts, including a stakes at Hollywood, but she was clearly over the top by then and was sent to be bred to Awesome Again
and sold in the November Sale at Keeneland.
Strawberry Morn's run of success ran out the very night before she was due to be sold.

I received a call at 3 a.m. from a night watchman that the mare was in the process of aborting her foal. A bitter blow to be sure.

There was further melodrama in Strawberry Morn's life which we need not elaborate at this time (a partnership gone sour). Like many hard raced mares, Strawberry Morn needed a bit of time to reproduce her best foals.

The mare wended her way to Europe and gained international notice when her daughter Strawberrydaiquiri won a Group race at Royal Ascot for trainer Sir Michael Stoute.