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.
Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Empire Maker returns to action Sunday, one of seven entered in Saratoga's Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) for 3-year-olds.
Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Empire Maker was made the 7-2 favorite for the Breeders' Cup Classic, Powered by Dodge (gr. I) in future book wagering conducted this weekend.
Saratoga Notebook: Top 3-Year-Olds Work; Prado Opts for Peace Rules; Volponi Ready for Whitney; Alabama Target for Awesome Humor
Empire Maker, Peace Rules and Sky Mesa all worked Saturday morning on the main track at Saratoga Race Course in preparation for their scheduled starts in stakes races on Aug. 3.
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.
- By Mike Kane
Jockey Jose Santos received a 10-day suspension from the New York state Racing and Wagering Board steward for careless riding in the sixth race Wednesday.
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.
Following two fast 5-furlong works – in :58 3/5 and :59 – Juddmonte Farms' Empire Maker had a nice easy half-mile breeze in :51 Wednesday morning.
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.
- By Steve Haskin
Edmund Gann's Midas Eyes, breezed 5 furlongs in a sharp 1:00 1/5 Monday morning, in preparation for next Sunday's grade II Dwyer Stakes, which is shaping up to be a classy, competitive race.
Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker worked 5 furlongs in a quick :58 3/5 at Belmont Tuesday, while Sky Mesa, who is pointing for the July 6 Dwyer Stakes, went the same distance in :59 flat.
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.
- By Ray Paulick
By Ray Paulick -- A Travers with Funny Cide and Empire Maker is almost certain to attract a record crowd to Saratoga.
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).
In a very close vote by 23 media representatives, Empire Maker came out on top of the final 3-year-old poll of 2003 conducted by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.
The Belmont Stakes crowd came to see history, but once again they left disappointed, as Juddmonte Farms' Empire Maker captured the third leg of the Triple Crown.
The day before Empire Maker's scheduled work on May 31, jockey Jerry Bailey showed up at Frankel's barn and echoed the trainer's words that he truly believed he had the better horse.
Selected articles from other newspapers and Web sites on Saturday's Belmont Stakes.
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.
If anyone is looking for signs that Empire Maker is ready to thwart Funny Cide's attempt to sweep the Triple Crown, they had to feel good after watching the son of Unbridled gallop Thursday morning.
The rain continued to come down at Belmont Park Thursday morning as several Belmont Stakes (gr. I) contenders tried to stay loose for Saturday's main event.
Several Triple Crown contenders are among the nominees for the $500,000 Virginia Derby, centerpiece of the upcoming meet at Colonial Downs. The turf event is scheduled for July 12.
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.
Illinois Derby winner Ten Most Wanted worked five furlongs in a solid :59 3/5 at Hollywood Park Monday morning as he continues preparations for Saturday's $1-million Belmont Stakes.
Just when the sun makes a rare appearance, it is gone in a few hours and the rain clouds roll back in. As a result, several trainers of Belmont horses have had to revise their training schedules.
Belmont Park was visited by a long, lost friend Friday morning...the sun. But it's not supposed to stay very long.
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.
With the Belmont track soaked from several days of rain, trainer Christophe Clement has decided to postpone Dynever's work from Friday to either Sunday or Monday. Also scheduled to work Monday is Kentucky Derby runner-up Empire Maker.
Ten Most Wanted, who finished a disappointing ninth in the Kentucky Derby at odds of 6-1, turned in a sharp 6-furlong breeze in 1:13 2/5 at Hollywood Park Wednesday in preparation for the Belmont Stakes.
Empire Maker breezed six furlongs on Belmont Park's fast main track after the mid-morning break Tuesday in a bullet 1:12 under jockey Aaron Gryder.
If Funny Cide sweeps the Triple Crown he will have earned it. Not only is a large field expected for the Belmont Stakes, but several of them will be talented newcomers to the Triple Crown scene, as well as some fresh horses who ran big in the Kentucky Derby.
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