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Frankel Remembered Fondly by Fair Grounds Horsemen

Members of the racing community based at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots paused Monday to share fond memories of Bobby Frankel, the Hall of Fame trainer who died that morning from complications of lymphoma. Though based in Southern California, horses trained by Frankel won all four of the premier Fair Grounds stakes over the years. Those triumphs included the Louisiana Derby (won by Peace Rules and High Limit), the Mervin H. Muniz Memorial Handicap (Proudinsky twice), the New Orleans Handicap (Peace Rules and Badge of Silver) and the Fair Grounds Oaks (Pampered Star). Frankel won nine stakes at Fair Grounds overall.

“He was a great horseman and was unique in his training,” said trainer Al Stall Jr., who stabled near Frankel’s barn at Saratoga. “He trained his horses one morning at a time and he wasn’t afraid to change things midstream, the same morning even, and it worked. His horses looked wonderful on the racetrack. They were nice horses to start, of course, but they sure always looked the part.

“I always kept an eye on what he did,” Stall continued. “I watched Vineyard Haven very closely last year and got to see him change day to day. Bobby would tell us to watch out for him.”

Frankel had purchased Vineyard Haven for himself and co-owners Joe Torre and Louis Lazzinnaro after a debut win at Calder Race Course as a 2-year-old in June 2008. At Saratoga, the colt disappointed in his first start for Frankel, but blossomed over the course of the season in time to win the Grade I Hopeful on closing weekend at 9-1 odds.

Stall’s assistant, Pam Fitzgerald, galloped many of Frankel’s graded stakes winners, including Tinners Way and Possibly Perfect, during three years she worked for him in California in the mid-1990s. “He was really sharp and sometimes he’d let you believe that he wasn’t paying attention but he always knew what you were doing,” Fitzgerald said.

“He was generous with people that needed help,” she added, remembering that Frankel once helped pay for an exercise rider’s rehab treatment. “He could be gruff, but he had a soft side, too.”

Frankel’s most recent Fair Grounds triumph came with Proudinsky’s repeat in the 2009 Muniz, a race that was especially significant to the trainer because of his close friendship with the race’s namesake, legendary Fair Grounds racing secretary Mervin Muniz. “Whenever I came to New Orleans when he was alive, he always showed me a real good time,” Frankel said of Muniz in 2008.

Many Fair Grounds horsemen and staff remember that Frankel traveled to New Orleans from Saratoga for Muniz’s funeral in August 2003.

Robert Frankel—Fair Grounds Stakes Wins (9)
Race, Winner
2009 Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap, Proudinsky
2008 Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap, Proudinsky
2007 Duncan F. Kenner Stakes, Saint Anddan
2005 Louisiana Derby, High Limit
2005 New Orleans Handicap, Badge of Silver
2004 New Orleans Handicap, Peace Rules
2003 Louisiana Derby, Peace Rules
1990 Fair Grounds Oaks, Pampered Star
1982 Mardi Gras Stakes, Little Mo

Jockey Campbell Building for the Future
Jockey Jesse Campbell, currently riding at Fair Grounds for the fourth straight season, achieved the 1,500-career win milestone midway through last summer’s Arlington Park meeting in Chicago but never realized it until well after the fact.

“I knew I was getting close, but I told my wife Allyson (Fair Grounds group sales manager) not to tell me how many wins away I was because I didn’t want it to affect my riding,” said the 30-year-old Campbell Monday morning. “Sometimes when you get close to a milestone, you start pressing a little and it takes you longer to get there. So she let a little time go by, and then when she checked again I had already passed it.”

Now, although Campbell grew up in the Chicagoland community of Lake Zurich, Illinois, and could easily be one of the leading riders this winter at Chicago’s Hawthorne Race Course, he prefers coming to New Orleans because of the better quality of horses he gets to ride locally.  

“I miss being home in Chicago, but my ultimate goal is to ride on the Kentucky circuit at Keeneland and Churchill in the spring and fall, come here in the winter and go back home to Chicago for Arlington in the summer,” Campbell said. “I probably should have made that move years ago, but now I want to try it before I get too old to do it, and the best way to get it done is to ride the better horses down here in New Orleans.

“I’ve certainly been riding enough horses since I got here this season,” said Campbell. “I’m extremely happy with the job my agent (Derek Ducoing) is doing for me and I’m looking forward to having a very good winter.”

Last Saturday, Campbell visited the winner’s circle with Maynard Chatters Jr.’s Big Adam after the third race and made the pace with the 21-1 shot High Toned until the late stages of the $60,000 Mr. Sulu Stakes before weakening to fourth in the final yards.

“The trainer (Shaun David) told me he might get a little late on me because he hadn’t run since last summer,” said Campbell of High Toned, “but the horse (owned by Robert Asaro) hung in there gamely. I really thought I had a chance to hang on until the last part of it, but that race will help him get better for the next one (the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Turf on Dec. 12). Whenever Shaun or Sam David lead one over, I want to be the one to ride him,” said Campbell. “I have total confidence in both of them, and they have confidence in me.”

Interestingly, as well as Campbell’s career as a jockey has been going, he is also well along in establishing a second career as a renovator of houses.

“I got started watching those house renovation shows on television about four years ago and very quickly got very passionate about it,” said Campbell. “It was like watching episodes of Seinfeld – I never missed one. I always wanted to try something like that for my future, so I got my (twin) brother (fellow jockey Joel Campbell) involved as my partner and for eight months we researched everything you need to know to get started in the business. Also, my next door neighbor back home in Wheaton, Illinois, is a contractor and he has been a tremendous help to me.

“We bought our first house in Barrington, Illinois, renovated it in about two-and-a-half months and turned it around and sold it for a $66,000 profit,” Campbell said. “Now we’ve completed five projects flipping houses in Barrington and also own a rental property in Palatine. While I’m down here in New Orleans Joel has been looking at about 30 houses a week back home. We both love doing what we’re doing and have named our company ‘Homestretch Homes’ to keep horseracing in the theme.”

How about wife Allyson, who also is suite level manager at Arlington Park in addition to her Fair Grounds duties? Does she ever pick up a hammer?

“Oh, yeah, she’s not afraid to help,” said Campbell. “She’s great with a crowbar!”

Mr. Sulu Winner Desert Wheat Ready for Next Round on Louisiana Champions Day
Mike Kaetzel, Fair Grounds assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, reported Monday morning that Saturday’s Mr. Sulu winner Desert Wheat came out of last weekend’s race in good order and will be pointed for the next round on Louisiana Champions Day  

“Bill hasn’t told me yet what that race will be,” Kaetzel said. “It probably it will be in the ($100,000 Louisiana Champions Day) Turf, but he’ll also be taking a look at the ($150,000 Louisiana Champions Day) Classic. We may end up nominating him and entering him in both races, and then see how the fields shape up before we decide which way we’re going to go.”

Assistant Trainer Downing Saddles Two Winners Saturday for Foley
Trainer Greg Foley scored a training double Saturday, giving new Fair Grounds jockey Victor Lebron a riding double. Foley’s assistant Evan Downing saddled both horses.

“Greg is in Kentucky,” said Downing Monday morning during training hours. “He’ll be in and out down here all winter, but we’ll be bringing twice as many down here this season – 40 instead of our usual 20.”

Tamaroak Stable’s Zosogood won Saturday’s fourth race for the Foley barn and Brereton Jones and Timothy Thornton’s Midway Holiday posed in the winner’s circle after the seventh event.

Thanksgiving Handicap, Woodchopper Stakes Nominations Released    
Fourteen older horses have been nominated to the 84th running of Fair Grounds $60,000 Thanksgiving Handicap Nov. 26, while 15 sophomore grass specialists have been nominated to the 22nd renewal of the $60,000 Woodchopper Stakes on Nov. 28. Nominations can be viewed online in the “Horsemen” section of the Fair Grounds website (http://www.fairgroundsracecourse.com/horsemen/stakes-nominations).

Week 2 Winners to Know (with owner, trainer, jockey)

Cool Bullet (Winmore LLC, Steve Margolis, Brian Hernandez Jr.)—Two-year-old gelding broke his maiden by more than six lengths in a Saturday maiden special weight at 5 ½ furlongs

Midway Holiday (Brereton Jones and Timothy Thornton, Greg Foley, Victor Lebron)—Two-year-old filly won debut in Saturday’s one-mile maiden special weight on turf by 2 ½ lengths

Flashy Wise Cat (Lee Young Farm, Troy Young, Shane Sellers)—Four-year-old colt drew off to win Saturday’s sprint for state-breds in 1:09.62, the fastest six-furlong time of the meet, in a prep for the Dec. 12 Louisiana Champions Day Sprint

Desert Wheat (Wachtel Stable, Brous Stable & Jerry D. Lee, Bill Mott, Corey Lanerie)—Six-year-old veteran returned to form in winning Saturday’s Mr. Sulu Stakes by a widening 2 ¾ lengths against an accomplished field of state-bred stakes winners

Mountain Justice (Blu Shu Stables, Andrew McKeever, James Graham)—In second career start, his first on turf and first around two turns, 2-year-old colt drew off to win Sunday maiden special weight at about one mile on turf by eight lengths

Yare (Oak Tree Stables, Sam Breaux, Gerard Melancon)—Three-year-old won Sunday allowance feature, a prep for the Dec. 12 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint, by nearly four lengths over a solid field of state-breds, including odds-on fave Master Link

Top Mutuels—Week 2
Pool: Amount, Horse(s), Date, Race(s)
Win: $163.40 (Deenameetay, Nov. 13, Race 9)    
Place: $52.40 (Deenameetay, Nov. 13, Race 9)                
Show: $30.80 (Deenameetay, Nov. 13, Race 9)    
Exacta: $1,151.20 (Deenameetay-Hometown Hottie, Nov. 13, Race 9)
Trifecta: $14,740.60 (Deenameetay-Hometown Hottie-Marsh Angel, Nov. 13, Race 9)    
Superfecta:$172,786.60 (Midway Holiday-Maple Heights-Moneigh-Spunky Monkey, Nov. 14, Race 7)
Super Hi5: Wager not offered until Dec. 3
Daily Double: $216.80 (Dancin Perfect-Deenameetay, Nov. 13, Races 8-9)    
Pick 3: $4,272.20 (Lovely Tribute-Dancin Perfect-Deenameetay, Nov. 13, Races 7-9)     
Pick 4: $68,750.40 (Beverly Belle-Lovely Tribute-Dancin Perfect-Deenameetay, Nov. 13, Races 6-9)
Pick 6: No 6-for-6 winners yet
NOTE: All payoffs on $2 wager

Top Mutuels—Season
Pool: Amount, Horse(s), Date, Race(s)
Win: $163.40 (Deenameetay, Nov. 13, Race 9)        
Place: $60.00 (Monday Mornin Rail, Nov. 7, Race 2)                
Show: $30.80 (Deenameetay, Nov. 13, Race 9)
Exacta: $1,534.80 (Jenny Redi Made-Macho Mama, Nov. 6, Race 1)        
Trifecta: $30,515.80 (Monday Mornin Rail-Rodeo Miss-Lola’s Surprise, Nov. 7, Race 2)    
Superfecta:$172,786.60 (Midway Holiday-Maple Heights-Moneigh-Spunky Monkey, Nov. 14, Race 7)
Super Hi5: Wager not offered until Dec. 3
Daily Double: $630.80 (Jenny Redi Made-Cole’s Music, Nov. 6, Races 1-2)        
Pick 3: $7,338 (Salic Law-Heliotropium-Golden Valley, Nov. 7, Races 9-11)     
Pick 4: $68,750.40 (Beverly Belle-Lovely Tribute-Dancin Perfect-Deenameetay, Nov. 13, Races 6-9)
Pick 6: No 6-for-6 winners yet
NOTE: All payoffs on $2 wager