Bobby Frankel's plans to run Kentucky Derby runner-up Empire Maker in Monday's Jersey Derby were canceled Sunday morning when the colt breezed 5 furlongs in 1:02 3/5 over Belmont's yielding inner turf course with jockey Jerry Bailey aboard.
"I told them (Monmouth officials) I would only run if I couldn't work him," Frankel said. "Yesterday afternoon, (NYRA racing secretary) Mike Lakow told me he'd prefer I kept the horse here, and that he would open the turf course for works. The turf is in good shape and I was able to get a good work in him. I wasn't looking for a serious work. I just wanted to give him some serious exercise, and he went great."
Frankel also was able to get a work in his Riva Ridge Stakes hopeful Midas Eyes, who breezed his 5 furlongs in 1:03 2/5 with Javier Castellano up, in company with Empire Maker. The fractions were :26 and :50 4/5. Among the other four horses who worked on the turf this morning was Belmont Stakes contender Dynever, who went a half in :48 2/5 breezing.
"He worked in company with a very good grass horse named Mariensky," trainer Chris Clement said. "He broke two or three lengths behind, and they finished up together, then galloped out very strong. Dynever is a pretty simple kind of horse to train, and he moved very well over the turf. I'd like to get another work in him on the dirt next Saturday or Sunday, then we'll go right into the Belmont. Working my horses a half-mile has always worked for me, and they do always gallop out a strong five and six furlongs."
In discussing Frankel working Empire Maker on the turf, Clement said jokingly, "He's always copying me. I could have entered my horse in the Jersey Derby, too, but we have different types of owners, and the way I look at it I just saved my owner $1,500 (the entry fee)."
Trainer Barclay Tagg is hoping to work Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide on Tuesday, possibly Wednesday, which would give him enough time to work the gelding again the following Tuesday. Funny Cide has been jogging regularly, and Tagg said the horse is right on schedule.