The European phenom has done it again.
In the first route race of his career, Frankel bested last year's Breeders' Cup Turf winner, St. Nicholas Abbey, among others in the Juddmonte International Stakes by open lengths.
In a week that has been hard for American racing with the retirement of two of the top remaining three-year-old colts, Frankel's brilliance across the pond brought the American racing industry back to life for a few minutes. Twitter was full of comments like this one from the Blood Horse's Claire Novak, among others.
But the European wonder didn't only bring excitement back to the sport after a tough week; he also has this writer wondering if he is among the best to ever grace the turf.
I will admit that I wasn't alive for the old guard. In fact, I was only born a little over two decades ago, so I never got to see most of the greats run live. But I’ve watched thousands of replays of these races during my lifetime, and I have to say that after Secretariat’s Belmont, many of Frankel’s races are tied for second in my mind as the most impressive I’ve ever watched of any decade.
I am not crazy enough to anoint Frankel as the greatest ever among everyone else yet. I believe that ranking where a horse is on the greatness scale is something that can’t be decided until after the horse is retired for a few years.
But unlike others who keep adding criteria on why the horse can’t be great until he runs in the Arc or the Breeders’ Cup or [insert race here], I do believe that his wins do put him among the greats no matter when you evaluate him in relation to others.
To me, Frankel’s wins aren’t what make him great. Instead, the way he wins is what makes him so impressive.
While it is somewhat normal to have a dirt horse win by open lengths, turf races usually have blanket finishes or a horse winning by only a length. Most turf races are won by short margins due to the way the race plays out and the fact that the last furlongs are run like a sprint.
This makes Frankel even more impressive to me because all but two of his wins have been won by over two lengths. In fact, eight of his 13 wins have been won by over five lengths. He also doesn't seem to have been tested at any point, usually coming back from the track fresh. In his Juddmonte win, he literally looked like he could keep running for quite a bit longer.
If this isn’t a sign of greatness, I’m going to need to reevaluate my opinion of horse racing.
We only have a few more months to enjoy Frankel, as he is slated to retire at the end of the year. There are multiple options for him in the coming months, but one thing is for sure, no matter where he goes and how he does, he has already cemented a legacy that will be a tough one to top for any horse in the coming years.