Sunday, June 8, 2003

No popularity contest for Frankel


Trainer perfectly happy to be hated for halting Crown

By Beth Harris
The Associated Press

NEW YORK - Bobby Frankel's wish came true. Everybody hates him.

Eager to play the villain in Funny Cide's feel-good march toward Triple Crown immortality, Frankel stepped up with a smile after Empire Maker won the Belmont Stakes on a soggy Saturday.

Empire Maker won by three-quarters of a length over Ten Most Wanted, giving the trainer his first Triple Crown race victory.

Funny Cide, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, was third, disappointing 101,864 wet fans who wanted to see racing's first Triple Crown in 25 years.

"This is probably the biggest thrill in racing for me," Frankel said. "A little redemption here."

Funny Cide, a New York-bred gelding, captured America's fancy with his fun-loving, small-time owners, obscure trainer and jockey who overcame a baseless accusation that he used an illegal electrical device to prod Funny Cide to victory in the Derby.

"I thought maybe destiny wanted that horse to win," Frankel said.

Yet all week, Frankel and jockey Jerry Bailey expressed confidence in Empire Maker's ability to handle the grueling 1 1/2-mile race.

"I hope everybody hates me after the race, then I'll know I did well," he said days before the final leg of the Triple Crown.

When Bailey walked into the paddock, Frankel didn't give him any instructions.

"You ride him like you want to ride him," Frankel told him.

So Bailey did, laying third behind front-running Funny Cide.

"My intention was to let him run," he said.

Bailey was in perfect position to see Funny Cide tugging mercilessly under the hold of Jose Santos.

"My horse was very relaxed," Bailey said. "If they pull on you all the way, they've got nothing left when they turn for home."

Frankel is in the Hall of Fame, and he led the nation's trainers in earnings last year. But what he wanted was to win a Triple Crown race, something rivals Bob Baffert and D. Wayne Lukas do routinely.

Twice before he finished second in the Belmont, including last year when Medaglia d'Oro was beaten by a half-length by 70-1 shot Sarava.

In 2000, Frankel failed when Aptitude was second in the Derby and the Belmont.




REDS
Reds 9, Blue Jays 8
Can we talk?
Dunn will keep leadoff spot for now
Reds notebook: Dempster's stats hide ability
Radel: Judges relish choosing mustard for ball park
Reds chatter
Reds Q&A
Reds happy to take 'worthwhile' gambles

MORE BASEBALL
Clemens hits snag in quest for 300
Home run derby helps Atlanta rally past Pirates
Ponson does O's, Browns proud
White Sox manager Manuel on way out?
Choi suffers concussion in collision
MLB power rankings
Stanford, South Carolina headed to CWS after wins

BENGALS
Mandatory minicamp begins Monday
Bengals Q&A

PREP SPORTS
St. X, Purcell are state baseball champs
Bombers play it cool in taking state crown
Milford left to lament what could have been
A fitting ending as Cavaliers win
School's out, but Boone gets 'A'
Groeschen: Indian Hill's Compton, McCarthy share award
Schmidt: Scott's Poland walking on at Auburn
Elder, Middletown athletes strike gold
Mason pair, Mercy standout are champs
Saturday's results

BASKETBALL
From pickup games to local phenomenon
Dow: XU, UC connected to NBA Finals
Nets plot to get physical with Duncan

NHL
Mighty Ducks 5, Devils 2
Anaheim's Rucchin a study in perseverance

HORSE RACING
Empire strikes back
Tagg: 'I've had worse disappointments'
No popularity contest for Frankel

MOTOR SPORTS
Johnson's strategy: Lead all the way
Dow: Green avoids bumps in road
Unser holds off Kanaan in Texas shootout

FRENCH OPEN TENNIS
Verkerk looks to cap unlikely run
Henin-Hardenne's precision neutralizes Clijsters' power

GOLF
Stadler penalized 2 strokes at Sr. PGA

TOP O' THE SECOND
Great things come in threes
Run TMC. Babe Ruth. No. 3 really is the tops!
Arturo Gatti vs. John Gotti
Top O' the Second Power rankings

ON THE AIR
Weekend sports on TV, radio