Juddmonte Farms' 3-year-old daughter of Empire Maker tuned up for the 1 1/8-mile race the morning of Sept. 8 by breezing six furlongs in 1:14.12 on the inner Belmont turf. The bay filly has not been out since her half-length triumph as the 6-5 choice in the 10-furlong American Oaks July 13 at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Emollient made her first five starts on dirt for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, beginning with two victories and two second-place finishes. Well-backed at 5-2 in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (gr. II) March 30, she finished fifth, 30 lengths behind Dreaming of Julia.
Mott elected to try her one week later on the synthetic surface at Keeneland, where she responded with a rousing nine-length romp in the Central Bank Ashland Stakes (gr. I). But back on dirt for the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) six weeks later at Pimlico Race Course, she endured an eventful trip and finished sixth.
"She'd run so well on the synthetic at Keeneland," Mott said of the decision to try turf in the American Oaks. "We'd worked her on the turf and that went extremely well. So we decided to try her away from dirt, since obviously that wasn't working out.
"Empire Makers seem to run very well on the synthetic, but they can be dirt or turf as well. They can do anything; you just have to test them out. You see a lot of them win at Keeneland when you put them on synthetic, which she did. She has been good enough to win on all three, but at this point in time I'd say she's best on turf, or synthetic."
Emollient, who is out of the Touch Gold mare Soothing Touch, has won four of eight starts with earnings of $656,900.
She figures to vie for favoritism in the Garden City with Discreet Marq, who made it three straight wins in the Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) Aug. 17. Discreet Marq won the Sands Point (gr. IIT) on the Belmont inner turf May 27 for conditioner Christophe Clement.
Among those expected to line up against them are Caroline Thomas and Watsdachances, who were placed first and second via disqualification in the Lake Placid (gr. IIT) Aug. 18 at Saratoga Race Course; Concise, who finished fourth in that race; Summer of Fun and Effie Trinket, first and second in the Auntie Mame Stakes Aug. 10 at Saratoga; Alterite, making her North American debut for trainer Chad Brown; and With Sugar On Top, an impressive winner of an optional claimer Aug. 22 at Saratoga.