So, how is the unbeaten superhorse Frankel doing at stud?
Right nicely, since you asked. Only his sire Galileo would garner higher praise among most breeders and assessors of bloodstock in Europe, and on Oct. 12, the burly young sire notched his tenth Group 1 winner when Juddmonte Farms's Quadrilateral won the G1 Fillies Mile at Newmarket to remain unbeaten in three starts.
Frankel's 10th G1 winner comes from the horse's fourth crop of racers, and the nice-looking chestnut is a fine ending to a very good year for Frankel. The sire had added English classic victories to his impressive list of successes this season with an Oaks victory for Anapurna, also winner of the G1 Prix de Royallieu on Arc weekend, and with a St. Leger victory for undefeated Logician, a striking gray who races in the colors of owner-breeder Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms. Logician is expected to contest premier events next season at 12 and perhaps even 10 furlongs.
As that suggests, one of the fascinating aspects of Frankel as a sire is his success in getting horses who adapt well to a wide variety of distances. Some are notably quicker than is typical of this male line, much quicker than typical of his sire Galileo, especially, who is fine old influence for classic performance and stamina but needs a sharp infusion of speed if he is going to get even a miler.
Frankel, for instance, is out of a very good producer by the top sprinter and sire Danehill (Danzig). Such is the stoutness of this branch of Northern Dancer, indeed, that if you want a fast Frankel, you should send him a quick mare. Send him a mare by Breeders' Cup Turf winner Daylami (Doyoun) or Strub Stakes winner Mizzen Mast (Cozzene), and you get a winner of the St. Leger (Logician) and a winner of the Fillies Mile (Quadrilateral), who made a fine run up the hill at Newmarket that put an emphasis on stamina.
Yet the unqualified success of getting 10 G1 winners, not lifetime but in only his first four crops, and 38 other stakes winners was not what some sales ring mavens were predicting for the bay son of Galileo. Indeed, Frankel was being damned with faint praise when his first yearlings came to market, and long was the talk that he would be a flop at siring racehorses.
Chief among the complaints was that he wasn't “getting a type.” That much, however, is true. The Frankels may come in nearly any color found in the Thoroughbred, and they aren't much like peas in a pod otherwise. But they do have an alarming consistency; nearly all of them can run.
Sure enough, Frankel has not replaced his sire and doesn't seem likely to do so because Galileo has sired more stakes winners and G1 winners and classic winners than any sire in history. Frankel is undoubtedly, however, a very good sire and quite possibly the best is yet to come.
One of the more serious objections to the elevation of Frankel to the elite ranking among sires was the contention that if he didn't respond immediately with great successes from his young stock, then he would get much lesser mares and have much lesser success.
I, for one, don't believe it matters.
Frankel is privileged to have a pedigree that is rife with excellence, and he had the racing class to indicate that he inherited all that was bright and beautiful from his forebears, as well as fast.
As a result, I am not surprised that Frankel has had success when mated to outstanding broodmares, as well as dams who are good, certainly good since they are going to Frankel, but far from extraordinary.
Take Nimble Thimble, the dam of Quadrilateral, for instance. She won a single race, and from four foals of racing age, Quadrilateral is the mare's first stakes winner. So how did she rate getting to be in Frankel's book?
Being a third-generation Juddmonte-bred from one of the farm's great families surely didn't hurt. I also suspect that the managers at Banstead Manor in England noted that Nimble Thimble was getting a good sort of foal, and she was successively mated to the farm stallions Bated Breath, Oasis Dream, Kingman, and Frankel.
The mare's first foal has won three times, and the third, a colt by Kingman named Boardman, is listed stakes-placed. They appear to be useful horses but nothing more.
The upgrade to Frankel produced Quadrilateral, who is quite a lot more. Unbeaten from three starts and now a G1 winner, Quadrilateral had been made favorite for next year's 1,000 Guineas before she won the Fillies Mile, and she had to be supplemented for that race at a cost of 40,000 pounds.
There is also good form in the family just a generation away. Nimble Thimble is a half-sister to Three Valleys (Diesis), who finished first in the G1 Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket in 2003, then was subsequently disqualified. To make the situation worse, Three Valleys was second in the G1 Dewhurst and never won a subsequent G1, although the handsome chestnut did win the G2 Del Mar Handicap and was twice third in the G1 Citation Handicap when trained by Bobby Frankel.
Three Valleys and Nimble Thimble are out of the Niniski mare Skiable, who is a stakes-placed half-sister to Hasili, the dam of five G1 winners, plus a G2 and a G3 winner. This is one of the very finest Juddmonte families, deriving from Sookera (Roberto), who was a high-class juvenile filly in 1977 when she won the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket.
Frank Mitchell is author of Racehorse Breeding Theories, as well as the book Great Breeders and Their Methods: The Hancocks. In addition to writing the column “Sires and Dams” in Daily Racing Form for nearly 15 years, he has contributed articles to Thoroughbred Daily News, Thoroughbred Times, Thoroughbred Record, International Thoroughbred, and other major publications. In addition, Frank is chief of biomechanics for DataTrack International and is a hands-on caretaker of his own broodmares and foals in Central Kentucky. Check out Frank's lively Bloodstock in the Bluegrass blog.
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