Frankel. They called him the greatest ever. Judges as time-tested as Timeform rated Frankel as the absolute best, and writers with decades of experience in watching races and racehorses were bowled over by the bay colt’s pace and class.
Even Tony Morris, who saw Sea-Bird win the 1965 Derby at Epsom and never had seen a racer he thought more talented, finally gave pride of place to Frankel as the best horse of his experience.
And those of us on this side of the pond, who saw Frankel live or on replays by means of the Internet or international racing services, came to believe that the mighty bay son of Galileo was special beyond the norm of elite racehorses. I thought he was a fair sort myself.
Then, after three seasons of racing and unbeaten in 14 races, Frankel went to stud.
Bred in England by Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms, Frankel went home to stand at Banstead Manor outside Newmarket. The horse’s initial books of mares were large and well-filled with choice producers and highly pedigreed racemares. What else was worthy to be bred to Frankel the Unbeaten, the Unbeatable?
Greatness in racing is not a guarantee of outstanding success in breeding, however, and when the first crop of yearlings by Frankel went through the sales last fall, the rumor mill was rumbling.
The most persistent knocks against the young stock by the great champion were that they came in all shapes and sizes. All colors and physical types. Some were bay and others chestnut. Some were tall, some were broad, and some were in between.
Knockers, being knockers, had to find something to crab on.
A year later, the tune has changed.
Buyers are mad to get at the great racehorse’s offspring, and trying to get a season to Frankel is past difficult.
The reason for the change of attitude has been the outstanding performance of Frankel’s first-crop juveniles this summer and fall. To date, Frankel has six group stakes winners, a listed stakes-placed colt, and 11 additional winners.
That is an excellent beginning, and from the evidence of Frankel’s own racing career, his pedigree, and the general progress shown by his racers in their first season, it will be a tremendous shock if there is not improvement to come from the Frankels in their second season and later.
Frankel made greater than average progress from 2 to 3 and 4. That is typical of the stock sired by Galileo. Like their sire, the Galileos tend to be improving athletes when they have greater maturity and distance to race over.
Galileo’s top juvenile sons before Frankel, such as Teofilo and New Approach, have already sired classic winners.
And this weekend, Frankel got his first G1 winner, the Japanese-bred filly Soul Stirring won the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies Stakes on Dec. 11 by 1 ¼ lengths over the Heart’s Cry filly Lys Gracieux. Out of the high-class racemare Stacelita (by Monsun), Soul Stirring is unbeaten in her three starts.
In addition to Soul Stirring, the stallion is represented by G2 winner Queen Kindly (Lowther Stakes) and G3 winners Fair Eva (Princess Margaret Stakes), Frankuus (Prix de Conde), Mi Suerte (Kyoto Sho Fantasy Stakes), and Toulifaut (Prix d’Aumale).
Soul Stirring is her sire’s first-crop leader to this point and has long been highly regarded. Bred in Japan by Shadai Farm and raced for Shadai Race Horse Company Ltd., Soul Stirring is the second foal out of Stacelita. By the great German classic sire Monsun, Stacelita showed a good turn of foot and has a quality pedigree. A winner six times at the G1 level, Stacelita was most effective from 9 to 11 furlongs. She included the Prix de Diane, Prix Vermeille, and Beverly D among her most important victories.
Shadai purchased Stacelita privately at the end of her racing career, and the mare’s second foal has turned the spotlight onto Japanese racing and breeding for its competitiveness and class.
With Stacelita’s ability to race around the world and reproduce her form in differing environments, it will be very interesting to see if Stacelita’s daughter Soul Stirring takes her G1 form on the road in the future.