aidan o brien and solskjaerAidan O’Brien with Solskjaer
(Summerhill Stud)

Aidan O’Brien is eight wins short of Bobby Frankel’s world record for most Group/Grade One wins in a single season, but looking ever closer, the Ballydoyle maestro is currently one day ahead of the schedule.

Franco Raimondi reports for the European Bloodstock News that Halfway To Heaven recorded the 17th Gr.1 win this year for Aidan O’Brien in the Nassau Stakes on Saturday. Bobby Frankel reached the same point in his record season of 2003 one day later – 3rd August – when Peace Rules scored a wire-to-wire win over Sky Mesa and Funny Cide in the Haskell Invitational.

Can Aidan O’Brien beat Bobby Frankel’s record? The answer is up to the juveniles. Aidan O’Brien set his personal best – and a European record – in 2001 when he won 22 of the 78 Gr.1’s run in Europe, plus the Gr.1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with Johannesburg. In that glorious season, Aidan O’Brien scored 11 times at Gr.1 level with his two-year-olds. Johannesburg  was responsible for four of those wins but Rock of Gibraltar made a strong contribution with successes in the Dewhurst Stakes and the Grand Criterium, while Hawk Wing and Quarter Moon kept the National Stakes and the Moyglare Stud Stakes at home. Notably, at the same stage of the 2001 season, Aidan O’Brien had just 10 Gr.1 wins in his pocket.

If the 2006 crop of Ballydoyle ensures a handful of Gr.1 wins, Bobby Frankel’s record could be beaten. The Brooklyn-born but California-based Bobby Frankel deserved all credit for his unbelievable 2003 season. He won 25 Gr.’s with 15 different horses and ten of them were previously trained by such great professionals as Henry Cecil and Andre Fabre.

Well known as a specialist with grass horses coming from Europe, Bobby Frankel also had fantastic results with his three-year-olds, topped by Empire Maker – who crushed Funny Cide’s Triple Crown dream in the Belmont Stakes and won three Gr.’s – as well as Peace Rules. He developed Aldebaran into a top sprinter/miler on dirt and snatched two of three gems of the New York Fillies’ Triple Tiara with Spoken Fur. Will Aidan O’Brien beat the record? The ball is in the court of Mastercraftsman and co.

halfway to heaven nassau stakes videoWatch Halfway To Heaven winning the Gr1 Nassau Stakes 2008