Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Remembering Bobby Frankel on his 72nd Birthday

In 1986, I was a na├»ve, horse-crazy 18-year-old living in Manhattan focused on a Wall Street career.  I spent Monday through Friday at Eisenberg & Sons learning to trade options and understand things like arbitrage. The weekends were reserved for my true loves – Aqueduct, Belmont, and the Meadowlands, the trio enveloped my every upright moment. On Saturday and Sunday, I traded stock charts for RagozinSheets.

This was also the year I put together my first racing partnership. The horse, a stunning gray son of Graustark, the trainer Bobby Frankel.

Jerry Castle, father of my dear friend Willy, recommended Bobby. Mr. Castle, was a leading owner in the 1970s with the notorious Buddy Jacobson, and later Jose Martin.  Willy, now goes by William. He is the agent for jockey David Cohen. Bobby Frankel had apprenticed with Jacobsen [father of David Jacobson].  Castle knew Frankel well.

Sounded good to me, but, seriously -- how is a California-based trainer going to train horses in New York?  Why Anthony Dutrow of course! Young Tony, brother to another notorious racing figure [Richard Dutrow], earned Frankel’s confidence and headed-up the New York division. My beautiful grey boy was front and center in the Frankel shedrow at Belmont Park [in my mind J]. Really, the star of the time was Garthorn, aka “the Believe It colt”.

In May [1986], Garthorn was prepping for the prestigious Met Mile at Belmont. Bobby was en route from California with owners Jerry and Ann Moss.  I was so excited at the thought of meeting Bobby Frankel in person. 

Tony introduced me to Bobby. Bobby was gracious and reserved, later I learned what a good mood he was in – lucky for me! I tracked Bobby to learn as much as I could during his weekend on the east coast. 

It was an unforgettable experience….

Garthorn won the Met Mile. Bobby, Jerry, and Ann invited me to join them in the NYRA Trustee’s room to celebrate with champagne and delectable hors d’ouevres . I didn’t know such a room existed at NYRA – wow, it was an eye opener. The celebration continued into Manhattan…limos, penthouses, fine-dining and drinks…until the wee hours of the morning.

Bobby was a perfect gentleman.  Although, it didn’t surprise me to learn years later, he was quite the ladies man. He was endearing and charming; he spent most of his time speaking about his daughter Bethenny.

Ann was so sweet and so gorgeous, I believe she was a model before becoming Mrs. Moss. And Jerry, I learned was the 'M' of A & M Records. Amazingly, we had a friend in common, New York music man Morris Levy. Zenyatta couldn’t have happened to nicer people.

It is funny how certain conversations rattle about in the mind for decades. Truly, it is like yesterday I remember Bobby sitting at the dinner table bragging on his daughter. She was 15 at the time. We were three years apart. It wasn't the age though, it was the name.  Bethany Blaisdell was one of my very best friends in grade school, she was the only Bethany I knew.

When I first saw Bethenny Frankel, I saw Bobby; her beautiful smile and kind eyes are a gift from her father.

Today [09.July.2013] is Bobby Frankel's 72nd Birthday. Though he is not here physically, I will raise toast tonight and remember the good time he showed me in the Big Apple. 

In 2004, I officially interviewed Bobby for Unbridled TV. He candidly spoke about his rise to success, love of horses, and how he'd like to be remembered.

I hope this post gives you pause to take a moment today to recall a win, a memory, good times, and happy trails with Bobby Frankel -- he was a good man, and he left us too soon.... Susan.