bobby frankel and ginger punch
bobby frankel and ginger punch

Bobby Frankel and Ginger Punch

(Photo : The Florida Horse/Slam)


Few people in South Africa will know the late Bobby Frankel, but Americans will tell you, he was one of the all-time greats, and a rare inductee to their Hall of Fame, as a fabled trainer.

He passed away recently, and Mike Rogers (whom we deal with for Champion U.S. Breeders, Adena Springs and their founder, Frank Stronach) posted this piece on a man who clearly understood his priorities.

Leading up to the 2007 Breeders’ Cup at Monmouth Park, all of us in the Stronach Stable camp were excited at the prospect of Ginger Punch’s participation in the Ladies’ Classic. Five days out, I received a call from Bobby Frankel. In typical Bobby fashion, there was minimal small talk before he cut to the chase. He informed me that he would be unable to attend the Breeders’ Cup, going into detail regarding his dog Happy’s unfortunate medical condition and his decision to remain in California with her. My initial reaction was a simple “really?” Bobby asked me to respectfully relay the information to Mr. and Mrs. Stronach. I assured him that I would pass along the circumstances surrounding his decision to Frank and Frieda.

I immediately called Frank and relayed Bobby’s message. Frank’s response was identical to my own: “really?” Frank then requested that I get Bobby on the line so he could speak to him directly. I was apprehensive - my gut reaction was that the conversation would not go over very well with either of them.

I reached Bobby and told him that I had Frank on the line. It was easy to sense Bobby’s own apprehension with his simple, “Hi, Frank.” Following a pregnant pause, Frank said in the most caring voice, “Bobby, how’s your dog?” I gave a strong sigh of relief, and I’m certain Bobby did as well. Bobby went on to explain that his dog was not doing very well, and he was uncomfortable leaving her in California. After the two of them talked about Happy, Frank asked Bobby how Ginger Punch was doing. Bobby replied that she was ready to run the race of her life, and there was nothing more he could do for her. Frank finished the call, saying, AOK Bobby, you look after Happy and we’ll look after Ginger.”

I will always remember the feeling I had when I hung up after listening to two immensely successful, yet very misunderstood men. They each managed to show great respect for what was important to the other man.

Ginger Punch went on to run exactly as Bobby predicted. Her Breeders’ Cup victory was her crowning achievement and ultimately led to a coveted Eclipse Award. Happy lived a little while longer with Bobby close to her side, but ultimately succumbed to her illness. Bobby eventually acquired two new dogs. His choice of names was a very fitting tribute to one of the many champions that he trained during his remarkable Hall of Fame career: Ginger and Punch.

We will all miss him.

Mike Rogers