The Special and Bobby Frankel: 2001

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Before the world changed with 9/11, we started a newspaper. We published six days a week, barely slept, barely made our mortgage payments, barely kept our sanity. Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, who died this week at 68, was a big part of it with wins in the Whitney, Alabama, Saratoga Breeders' Cup and more.

2001: We were scared of him. He probably didn't know what to make of us . . .

We didn’t even talk to him after Lido Palace won the Whitney . . . He signed up as a subscriber (back when we tried to charge for the paper) . . . We ran a great photo of his dog, Happy, sunning herself in the shedrow . . .

Sean finally broke through with a real interview after Flute won the Alabama. Frankel talked, we all listened: “If you were around her you’d see that she knows what’s going on. Everybody thinks I’m nuts but she’s reincarnated. When I go to her she knows exactly who it is. I can stand there and play with her for an hour, as soon as I go away she gets depressed over it. She’s like a little kid when they see their parents leaving and they don’t want to see them go. That’s the way she is with me. From the day I met her. I really realized it because I had so much time on my hands at Churchill Downs and I started hanging around with her. That’s when I realized it. She’s my favorite.”

The next day, Frankel won the Saratoga Breeders’ Cup with Aptitude and he talked about training horses: “I just think I take good care of the horses and I adjust to situations. You know it’s good time for me to brag ’cause when I’m doing bad I’ll tell you I’m the worst trainer in the world. I’ll drive home sometimes and say, ‘What am I doing in this business? Why do I got to aggravate myself to death?’ I tell myself how bad a trainer I am. I beat myself up.”

But then he relished in the day, which also included wins in the Pacific Classic and Finlandia Handicap at Del Mar: “On days like today, I think I can train. Other days . . . I keep changing my training. I don’t train the same way all the time. This game changes so much you gotta keep on changing with the young guys coming up. When you’re not doing well, you keep going over and over everything, you confuse yourself. When you’re confident, you just go with it. I’ve changed my training methods in the last two years. Well, it’s, it’s . . . I don’t want to give away my secrets. You know? Not like it’s a secret. I’ve realized . . . well, it’s probably the horses."