JC / Railbird

Super Frankel

I suppose steer is the word, isn’t it?,” Tom Queally said to Racing UK analyst Nick Luck after riding Frankel this afternoon to his 13th win in the Juddmonte International at York (replay link; no video embedding allowed). It was the first time Frankel went beyond a mile in what’s been a smashing three-season career (take a moment to relish that — we’ve been watching him since he was a juvenile), answering the distance question that’s dogged the unbeaten colt. Confirmed! With a handride! Frankel is more than a brilliant miler — in the Juddmonte, he proved that he can turn on the speed at 10 furlongs as easily as he does at eight. And what acceleration — he ran the “furlong … between three out and two out … in 11.05 seconds, which equates to 40.73mph.”

The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe or the Champion Stakes are reportedly both possibilities for his next start, which is expected to be his last. In whichever race he ends his career, Frankel will surely be remembered as one of the greats, even if — as Chris McGrath wrote before the Juddmonte, with the obligatory caveats about second-guessing a horseman with the stature of Sir Henry Cecil — we’ll likely never know his bottom:

Plenty of people at York today will claim they are looking at the greatest racehorse in history. Hitherto, however, the only measure of Frankel has been the increasing margins by which he has humiliated Excelebration. Yes, he finally tries something different today, partly because the race is sponsored by Khalid Abdullah, the Saudi prince who will be retiring Frankel to his Juddmonte Farms at the end of the season. But Cecil anticipates running him only once more, again on Champions’ Day. In which case, he will leave us without beginning to approach the limits of his potential.

I hope they confirm his final race soon enough to make travel plans. We might not get to see the limits of his potential, but I’d like to see him, once, live.