By Mike Kane and Phil Janack
Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel made quick work of a rumor going around the backstretch Tuesday morning regarding Empire Maker's status for the Travers (gr. I).
"What, that I'm not running? Empire Maker?" Frankel said. "No, he's running."
Suspicion was aroused when the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner walked the shed row Monday morning rather than go out for his usual gallop two days after breezing. Frankel said there is no question that Empire Maker will make the race.
"Yeah, of course I'm running," he said.
Empire Maker jogged on the Oklahoma training track Tuesday morning. Frankel said the loss to Strong Hope in the Jim Dandy (gr. II) Aug. 3 was a minor setback.
"You always want to think that you have the best horse, but you have to prove it. That's why I wanted to win the Belmont," he said. "Him getting beat in the Jim Dandy didn't diminish anything."Dynever Doubtful for Travers
Dynever, the runner-up in West Virginia Derby (gr. III) on Aug. 9, is unlikely to be entered in the Travers, trainer Christophe Clement said. "I would love to run in the Travers, but it is a week or two weeks too early for me," Clement said. "But he came back in great shape from the West Virginia Derby. He looks good. Most probably, I'm going to aim him toward the Pennsylvania Derby."Clement said he might change his mind if Dynever "keeps jumping out of his skin."That is a longshot at best, Clement said. "Most probably," Clement said, "he will not run in the Travers."Bailey Rib Injury Suffered Water Skiing
Jockey Jerry Bailey said during a teleconference Tuesday that he took off his mounts on Sunday and Monday to rest a rib injury suffered water skiing last week.Bailey, who is scheduled to resume riding today, said he pulled some cartilage loose in the fall."It wasn't anything too dangerous," Bailey said. "I can water ski. I was up on two skis, flipped one off and was slaloming."Bailey, 45, said because another boat was in the vicinity he was forced to ski over the wake it produced."I probably should have ditched it right then, but there was a boat coming and I tried to hang on a little longer than I should have. It pulled my muscles pretty good in my rib cage."It was a weird-type thing. I needed a couple of days to get over it and I never gave myself a couple of days, so I did this past few."Bailey is second in the Saratoga jockey standings with 31 victories.Day Impressed With Ten Most Wanted
Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day watched Travers hopeful Ten Most Wanted gallop on the main track Tuesday morning, the first time he has seen the colt in more than a month.
"He's grown up and filled out. He's looking good," Day said. "He's always been a good-looking horse. He's starting to mature and get stronger. The first time I rode him I thought he was going to be real good late summer and next year. I think that's still going to play out."
The last time Day was on Ten Most Wanted was in the Swaps (gr. II) on July 13 at Hollywood Park. They ran behind a slow pace, took a brief lead at the top of the stretch and fell a head short to During. Since then, trainer Wally Dollase has fitted the horse with cheater blinkers for his workouts, and the horse will wear them in the Travers.
"In the (Swaps), I was setting against him and I felt like I had a ton of horse. It wasn't a question of win or lose in my mind, it was a question of how far," Day said. "For whatever reason, he lost his focus and the momentum cost him the race. That's what enticed them to go and put on those blinkers. They feel it got him a lot more responsive and focused."
Ten Most Wanted has been stabled in trainer Phil Serpe's barn under the watch of Dollase's daughter and assistant, Aimee. Wally Dollase was scheduled to arrive from California Tuesday night.Raging Fever OK
Multiple stakes winner Raging Fever came out of her loss in Monday's fifth-race allowance in good shape, Seth Gregory, assistant to trainer Mark Hennig, said Tuesday.
Gregory said the three-time grade I-winning filly appeared to be fine after running third, beaten just over a half-length, in the six-furlong sprint, carrying top weight of 123 pounds, seven more than longshot winner Literary Light and 14 more than runner-up Lilah.
Aaron Gryder, a late replacement, rode the 6-5 favorite Raging Fever for Jerry Bailey, who took off his mounts."She was conceding a lot of weight to the competition and she didn't have the easiest of trips," Gregory said. "She was stuck in between horses there. She tends to relax better if she can get to the outside. It didn't happen early in the race."Pletcher Works Top 2-Year-Olds
Meet-leading trainer Todd Pletcher had two of his top 2-year-old colts on the track Tuesday morning.
Undefeated Chapel Royal, winner of the Sanford (gr. II) on July 24, and Value Plus, an impressive debut winner two days later, both breezed five furlongs on the main track.
Pletcher has been pleased with both colts since their victories. Chapel Royal, who also won the Flash (gr. III), will go next in the Hopeful (gr. I) on Aug. 30. A $1.2 million purchase, he was timed in :59 2/5.
"He worked really well, went the last quarter in 23 and one and galloped out in 12 and change. It was super," Pletcher said. "He's trained brilliantly. We gave him a pretty easy three weeks since the Sanford and he came back with two really good five-eighths breezes. He is really doing well."
Purchased for $1.1 million, Value Plus worked in 1:01. Pletcher said he is undecided about his next start but, though nominated to the Hopeful, hinted he may wait a little longer.
"He went :23 and change the last quarter and galloped out good. I'm just as happy with him. He's doing very well," he said. "He'll either go in the Hopeful or the Futurity, and I'm leaning toward the Futurity so I can keep he and Chapel Royal separated."
The Futurity (gr. I) is run at a mile at Belmont Park on Sept. 14.
Pletcher also said he will enter both Smok'n Frolic, third in the Aug. 1 Honorable Miss (gr. III), and Harmony Lodge in the Ballerina (gr. I) on Sunday.