It is still unknown if the Aug. 23 Travers Stakes (gr. I) will result in the much-anticipated meeting of Empire Maker and Funny Cide, but that race isn't the only graded stakes scheduled for that weekend at Saratoga.
A scheduled work for Bird Town was interrupted by weather; Funny Cide may jog Friday; Volponi is undergoing a blood test; trainer Pletcher and owner Dogwood face decisions; plus lots of other news and notes from the Spa.
In his second major upset in a row, Eugene and Laura Melnyk's Strong Hope led from start to finish and held off 1-5 favorite Empire Maker to win Sunday's Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga. Congrats closed in the stretch to be third.
The 3-year-old stars were on parade Saturday morning at Saratoga, as Peace Rules and Sky Mesa worked 5 furlongs for next Sunday's $1 million Haskell Invitational, and Empire Maker worked 6 furlongs for the Jim Dandy Stakes the same day.
Sackatoga Stable's Funny Cide, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes (both gr. I), will carry highweight of 123 pounds in the $1-million Haskell Invitational (gr. I), Monmouth Park's signature event for 3-year-olds, on Aug. 3.
Edmund Gann's Peace Rules, like stablemate Empire Maker, turned in his second consecutive fast work, breezing a quick half in :45 3/5 Thursday. The work came eight days after the son of Jules breezed a half in :45 2/5.
Although the $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes is still more than a month away, Juddmonte Farms' Empire Maker already has two sharp drills under his belt, the latest being a 5-furlong breeze in :59 Wednesday morning.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association and Breeders' Cup Ltd. on Monday released the first set of 2003 World Thoroughbred Rankings for six of the eight racing divisions that comprise the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.
Ever since Empire Maker's runner-up finish as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), Jerry Bailey had been feeling a little bit guilty. The Hall of Fame rider couldn't be blamed for the bruised foot that disrupted the colt's training schedule. But Bailey did regret his decision regarding Empire Maker's post position. In the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), he was riding for redemption--for both Empire Maker and himself.
Officials for Visa, the title-sponsor of the Triple Crown, are angry about the advertising worn during the Belmont Stakes program by three jockeys, including Jerry Bailey, who won the final leg of the Triple Crown aboard Empire Maker.
Empire Maker delivered Prince Khalid Abdullah his first North American Triple Crown victory, powerfully navigating under the famous turquoise and pink silks through muck and mire to win a breathtaking Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
Empire Maker, the colt that was supposed to win the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby (gr. I) because of his pedigree, instead won the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes (gr. I) because of his pedigree. That's a lot of pedigree for one horse, even for one from the vast international breeding empire of Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms.
Bobby Frankel has almost done it all as a trainer. He's won the last three Eclipse Awards as North America's top trainer to go with the one he earned in 1993. He joined the pantheon of greats while being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995. He now has a classic win in his back pocket as the result of Juddmonte Farms' Empire Maker's win in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
The 1 1/2-hour Belmont Stakes telecast on NBC produced an overnight rating of 10.4, the highest for any horse race since the 1990 Kentucky Derby and the highest for a Belmont since 1987, when ratings were introduced. The overnight rating for the race exceeded overnight ratings for other major sporting events over the weekend.
Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel was all smiles this morning after winning Saturday's Belmont Stakes with Empire Maker, who is likely to face Funny Cide and Ten Most Wanted in the Travers Stakes. Empire Maker is expected to run next in the Jim Dandy and Funny Cide the Haskell Invitational, both on Aug. 3.
Having just completed a very successful Belmont Stakes Day despite very unfavorable weather conditions, the New York Racing Association is looking forward to a potentially huge day Aug. 23 when the grade I Travers Stakes is run at Saratoga.
The day after his second-place finish in the May 3 Kentucky Derby aboard Empire Maker, Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey was noticeably upset by the outcome, ostensibly because of his confidence in the colt whose pre-Derby preparations were hampered by a bruised hoof. On Saturday, June 7, Bailey was rewarded for his confidence in Empire Maker when he rode the colt to victory in the Belmont Stakes.
Empire Maker and Dynever, two of the leading candidates for the June 7 Belmont Stakes, were on the track at Belmont Park Saturday morning, May 31, with each working to the satisfaction of their respective trainers.
A cheery Bobby Frankel said Friday morning that Empire Maker covered his usual mile and quarter gallop and went to the starting gate for schooling as the son of Unbridled moved one day closer to Saturday's Belmont Stakes.
History was set at Belmont Park Saturday but it was not Funny Cide becoming a Triple Crown winner. Instead, it was trainer Bobby Frankel winning his first Triple Crown race when his Empire Maker won the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Ten Most Wanted was second and Funny Cide third.
Sure, there is not much in the pool, but the early word is obvious--New Yorkers want New York-bred Funny Cide to become a Triple Crown winner. They are wagering on him to take Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
It was a picture-perfect morning Friday at Belmont Park, with cloudless skies, warm temperatures, and a slight breeze serving as an ideal backdrop as several of the leading contenders for Saturday's Belmont Stakes were on the track.
After Wednesday's Belmont post position draw, all the combatants can now start planning their strategies. When Funny Cide drew post 4 and Empire Maker post 1, the wheels immediately started turning as to how the early battle will unfold.
Funny Cide, who will attempt to become Thoroughbred racing's 12th winner of the Triple Crown Saturday in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), will do so from post 4. The Sackatoga Stable star will face five challengers in the 1 ½-mile "Test of a Champion" and was installed the even-money favorite for the race.
Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Funny Cide was made the even-money morning line favorite when six horses were entered Wednesday for Saturday's Belmont Stakes. The 3-year-old gelding will break from post position 4 as Derby runner-up Empire Maker breaks from the inside post.
The more one looks at the repercussions of a Funny Cide victory in Saturday's Belmont Stakes, the more it looks almost a sure thing that Empire Maker will hook up fairly early with the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner.
Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Funny Cide may very well be the "people's horse," but the impeccably-bred Empire Maker still remains the big horse in the eyes of jockey Jerry Bailey.
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.
Trainer Bobby Frankel, fearing he may not get enough training in Empire Maker because of the bad weather in the Northeast, has entered Kentucky Derby runner-up Empire Maker in Monday's Jersey Derby at Monmouth Park.