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 Belmont Stakes winner returned to the work tab last week, breezing 5 furlongs in :58 3/5. Trainer Bobby Frankel said the son of Unbridled is getting so good, the fast times of his works come naturally and take nothing out of him.
"He went a little quicker than I wanted, but he's a good horse and good horses work fast," said Frankel, who pretty much said the same thing after Empire Maker's last work.
Frankel is looking forward to a showdown with Funny Cide in the Travers Stakes on Aug. 23, but first will take on the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner in the Haskell Invitational with Edmund Gann's Peace Rules.
Funny Cide has been taking it slow and still is almost a week away from his first work since the Belmont. ""We didn't do anything with him the week or so after the Belmont," trainer Barclay Tagg said. "He had a little jog this morning. We won't do much with him over the next four of five days. He'll breeze after that."
Assistant trainer Robin Smullen added, ""He feels great. His weight is good and his coat looks good. He needed the time off; he's had a tough campaign."
One horse who may take on Empire Maker in the Jim Dandy is the unbeaten Ohio Derby winner Wild and Wicked, whom trainer Kenny McPeek feels is one of the best horses he's ever trained. McPeek will run Sir Barton winner Best Minister in this Sunday's Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park.