Frankel ends racing career unbeaten
ASCOT, England (AP)
Frankel finished his dazzling career unbeaten by winning the Champions Stakes at Ascot on Saturday for a 14th straight victory, cementing his status as one of the greatest racehorses.
Setting off as a 2-11 favorite in front of Queen Elizabeth II and 32,000 spectators, the world's top-ranked horse coped well with the soft going to come home with a length and three-quarters to spare ahead of 2011 winner Cirrus Des Aigles (9-2).
The 4-year-old colt was slow out of the starting blocks but quickly recovered under jockey Tom Queally before showing his trademark turn of speed to overtake Nathaniel and then Cirrus Des Aigles in the final two furlongs.
''He's the best I've ever had; he's the best I've ever seen. I'd be surprised if there's ever been any better,'' said Frankel's decorated trainer, Henry Cecil, who has been handling racehorses for 43 years.
The winning check of $1.19 million takes Frankel's earnings to $4.85 million. After soaking up the applause of the adoring Ascot public, he will lead a life as a stallion.
''That is the end of it, and he will retire,'' owner Prince Khalid bin Abdullah said.
Some analysts are predicting he could earn Prince Khalid more than $160 million at stud in Newmarket, where Cecil has nurtured Frankel to become one of the most loved British horses in recent times.
Named after American Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, the winner of all 14 puts Frankel in the company of some of the country's great flat-racing giants, such as Mill Reef, Sea the Stars and Brigadier Gerard.
His final victory wasn't his most emphatic, but he was up against two horses alongside him in the top five of the thoroughbred rankings.
After rain during the week, soft and heavy conditions in some places were not to his liking. But he had enough power to push clear of Cirrus Des Aigles in the closing stages as the crowd went wild.
''His class showed today,'' Queally said. ''I walked the track (before the race), and I was a little worried about the conditions 'But he was in great heart today. It's right up there with his best performances. He didn't like the ground, but he has delivered.''
Frankel never raced abroad, never raced more than 10 furlongs and won only one English classic, the 2,000 Guineas — albeit by six lengths in a devastating performance last year.
''He doesn't just win; he destroys the field every time,'' jockey Frankie Dettori said. ''He's not only got a great physique; he's got that will to win. I've never seen anything like it, and I probably won't for a long time.''
Frankel's victory was the highlight of the QIPCO British Champions Day, the richest day in the country's racing history with $4.85 million in prize money.
Excelebration, beaten five times by Frankel, won the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes for a first Group One success in Britain. The 10-11 shot beat Cityscape by three lengths.
''If he's OK and everybody is happy, we'll go to the Breeders' Cup,'' trainer Aidan O'Brien said.