When Santa Anita officials were scouting about for a stakes event to name after the late Bobby Frankel, they could hardly have found a better fit than the San Gorgonio Handicap, a race the Hall of Fame trainer won a record eight times in his illustrious career.
Frankel, who died following a valiant fight against lymphoma at the age of 68 on Nov. 16, 2009, dominated the San Gorgonio, for older fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on the turf, during a career that saw him win more races, 917, than any other trainer in Santa Anita history. He also ranks second to the late Charlie Whittingham on the track's career stakes victory list with 146.
And the esteemed conditioner would no doubt be looking forward to winning the inaugural $150,000 Robert J. Frankel Stakes (gr. IIT), which drew a compact field of five to the Santa Anita grass course Jan. 1. The race is the third on the program with a 1:31 p.m. PST probable start.
Though small, the field includes a pair of grade I winners in 2010, Eclair de Lune and Harmonious. Both are seeking to rebound after unplaced efforts in the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs. They will each shoulder top weight of 123 pounds, spotting their other rivals five pounds apiece.