Empire Maker Puts in Wood Tune-Up

Empire Maker Puts in Wood Tune-Up
Photo: Pat Christine
Empire Maker, left, and stablemate Midas Eyes in Sunday workouts.
Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel sent out a slew of his stars, including top sophomores Empire Maker, Peace Rules and Midas Eyes, for workouts at Hollywood Park Sunday morning.

The conditioner arrived back in California from Arkansas on Saturday night, just hours after he saddled Medaglia d'Oro to win the Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) on Saturday.

Louisiana Derby (gr. II) winner Peace Rules was first on the agenda, logging a bullet six furlongs in 1:11 3/5 handily, shortly after the morning's first break. Despite the quick time, Frankel was pleased with the effort and said the Florida-bred son of Jules is ready for Saturday's Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland.

Current Kentucky Derby (gr. I) favorite and Florida Derby (gr. I) victor Empire Maker worked six furlongs in company with Swale Stakes (gr. III) winner Midas Eyes. The pair remained on nearly even terms throughout the drill, with Empire Maker outfitted in blinkers, on the outside of Midas Eyes. The two exchanged position on the lead all the way down the lane, but it was Empire Maker who stuck his nose in front at the wire to earn a time of 1:13, just a tick faster than Midas Eyes' 1:13 1/5.

"I wanted them to go in :12 or :13 and they went in :13, so that's good," Frankel said. "Those two are good workmates. I have to work Peace Rules by himself because he gets too excited. I didn't want to do too much with Midas Eyes because he'll work again next week before he races again."

Empire Maker will head postward as the prohibitive favorite in Saturday's $750,000 Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I) at Aqueduct, his last stop before the Run for the Roses on May 3. Midas Eyes is slated to contest the $325 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland on April 19. Frankel isn't sure where Midas Eyes will race after the Lexington.

All three horses are scheduled to leave California early Wednesday morning.

Grade I winners Denon and Chiselling were also out in company, both registering six-furlong works in 1:13 3/5. Denon, last year's winner of the Turf Classic Invitational (gr. I), hasn't raced since finishing fifth in the Oct. 26 Breeders' Cup Turf. Frankel said the son of Pleasant Colony will likely make his first start of the year in the $350,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap (gr. I) on June 14 before shipping to New York to contest the bigger marathon grass events at Belmont Park and Saratoga over the summer.

Chiselling, a half-brother to Empire Maker, won last year's Secretariat Stakes (gr. I) at Arlington and hasn't raced since finishing third in the Jamaica Handicap in September . Frankel said he has no plans mapped out for the 4-year-old son of Woodman, who is also a half-brother to grade 1 winners Chester House and Honest Lady.

San Carlos Handicap (gr. I) winner Aldebaran, set to contest Saturday's Carter Handicap (gr. I) on the Wood Memorial undercard, went five furlongs in 1:00 4/5.

Requete, runner-up in the Explosive Bid Handicap (gr. IIT) at Fair Grounds last out, logged a half-mile in :49 3/5 handily.
Frankel. Empire Maker can change that.

"It's very exciting," Frankel said. "I'd love to get them a Derby win."

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