Bobby Frankel and Humberto Ascanio were polar opposites in
personality. Frankel was irascible, brash, blunt and confrontational.
Ascanio is out of the Dale Carnegie school. Once when a reporter asked
Frankel the name of an owner of one of his horses, he barked, “Gann!”
When a reporter lost his cell phone on the Hollywood Park
backstretch one morning, Ascanio got up from his seat in the tack room,
calmly walked a hundred yards to the nearest security guard, and asked
in Spanish if he had seen a cell phone.
A short time later, the reporter had the phone.
Frankel died at the age of 68 on Nov. 16, 2009, leaving his
assistant of more than three decades Ascanio to fend for himself.
Ascanio, now 65, had modest success with a small string of horses of his
own after Frankel’s passing, but has been recovering from a stroke
since Dec. 30, 2011. It’s been a long climb back but Ascanio won’t fail
for lack of effort.
“I lost movement on the right side of my body, so I had to
disband my 12-horse stable,” Ascanio said by phone from his home in
Arcadia. “Progress is slow, but I’m doing pretty good now. Thank God
it’s not real bad. I’m doing therapy twice a week at my home.
“It’s been tough psychologically, but I’m going to fight it to
try and get better. My goal is to get back to training. I miss
everybody. I’ve spent all my life at the track and I want to return.”