2003-06-06 / Community

Triple Crown Spoiled By FRHS Alumnus?

By Brian Magoolaghan
Triple Crown Spoiled By FRHS Alumnus?

Triple Crown Spoiled By FRHS Alumnus?

By Brian Magoolaghan

Funny Cide will win the illusive Triple Crown this weekend if he takes the Stakes at Belmont, but a hall of fame trainer schooled in Rockaway could just prevent a crowning with his horse, Empire Maker.

Bobby Frankel, the colt’s Brooklyn-born trainer, attended Far Rockaway High School (FRHS) in the 1950s. After that, he enrolled at C.W. Post, but left after realizing he wanted to be at the track betting horses, according to an interview he gave to The Courier Journal in Louisville, Ky.

Frankel started his professional horseracing career at Aqueduct and Belmont, in the lowly position of ‘hot walker.’ His responsibility, then, was to lead thoroughbreds around a small area nearby their stables. His job now, is to lead the 3-year-old Empire Maker to victory, while making this the 25th year-in-a-row without a Triple Crown winner. The prize for the Belmont Stakes is $1 million. If Funny Cide wins, his team gets an additional $5 million, which would make him the best earning gelding (castrated horse) in history.

Frankel’s career highlights include induction to the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame in 1995, and winning the Eclipse Award for outstanding trainers four times. Yet with all of his recognition as a top trainer he has not had a horse that finished first in any of the most important races. Frankel, now in his 60s, has told reporters that he is running short on opportunities to win races such as this week’s in Elmont.

Empire Maker is a horse with more than just a half-way-decent shot at being this weekend’s winner and spoiler. In an article for ESPN, Bill Finley recalled how the horse "crushed Funny Cide like a grape" at a race in April. The colt has also upset other favorites this year, and is the one many in the racing community say has the best shot at crossing the finish before Funny Cide.

To earn the Triple Crown, a horse must finish first at the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes, in the same year. Only 11 horses have won all three jewels since Sir Barton did it first in 1919. Some 17 horses have won the first two races, but failed to complete the crown.

The 135 running of the Belmont Stakes is this Saturday, June 7. The first race is at noon, and the main event will start shortly after 6:30 p.m.

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