Empire Maker will skip the Jersey Derby at Monmouth Park after a solid workout at Belmont Park on Sunday kept the colt on track for the Belmont Stakes.
Considered the top challenger to Triple Crown hopeful Funny Cide in the June 7 Belmont, Empire Maker was a surprise entry for today's Jersey Derby. Trainer Bobby Frankel had feared his colt's training would be disrupted because of several days of wet weather.
But with jockey Jerry Bailey aboard, Empire Maker breezed five-eighths of a mile in 1:02 3/5 over Belmont's turf course instead of the muddy dirt. Empire Maker worked in company with stablemate Midas Eyes.
"I think we'll be OK now," Frankel said Sunday. "I couldn't go into the Belmont off five weeks of no (serious) training."
Empire Maker, the Kentucky Derby favorite who finished second to Funny Cide on May 3, skipped the Preakness to prepare for the 1 1/2 -mile Belmont. Empire Maker, a half-length winner over Funny Cide in the Wood Memorial on April 12, is scheduled for one more workout before the Belmont.
Meanwhile, Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide jogged twice around Belmont on Sunday, and remains on schedule for a Wednesday workout.
Funny Cide is bidding to become the first New York-bred and first gelding to win the Triple Crown, last won by Affirmed in 1978.
Supervisor, who ran third in Saturday's Peter Pan Stakes, will start next in the Belmont, according to the Thoroughbred Times Web site.
According to the publication, trainer Linda Rice said "We realize there are other spots out there that he'd have a better chance of winning, but having a horse in the Belmont Stakes is one of Mr. (owner Rodney) Lundock's dreams."
Rice will need to find a new rider. On Saturday, Jose Santos was aboard, but he's committed to Funny Cide.
Ramirez ties for jockey lead
FORT ERIE, Ont. -- Martin Ramirez rode three winners at the Fort Erie Race Track as the Fort's 2002 riding champ moved into a tie with Neil Poznansky atop the jockey standings.
Ramirez won both ends of the daily double aboard Halo's Glow ($11.80) and Pretty Belle ($13.30) and took the 10th race on Red G ($9.50) for his 19th win of the meet. Poznansky got his 19th winner on West of Houston ($9.70) in the featured eighth race.
Around the tracks
From Above rallied to win the Elitloppet by a half length, giving driver Orjan Kihlstrom his first victory in one of Europe's most prestigious trotting races. The 5-year-old horse overtook Swedish trotters Victory Tilly and Scarlet Knight with about 20 yards left in the mile race at Solvalla Racetrack in Stockholm.
Yesterday held off Six Perfections to win the Irish 1,000 Guineas at The Curragh in Dublin, Ireland. Six Perfections, the favorite ridden by Johnny Murtagh, was second again in a classic.