Cindy's Horse Racing Website Index

Frankel's Derby Boys

Date: 04/13/2003

Bobby Frankel and one of his Derby jockeys, Edgar Prado who rides Peace Rules.

Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel did not have a huge media crowd hanging on his every word Sunday morning. That will come later on. Instead, Frankel had a comfortable conversation with a few early risers at trainer Richard Dutrow's barn at Aqueduct.

Of course, Frankel didn't need to say too much. Juddmonte Farm's Empire Maker spoke volumes on Saturday afternoon when he fortified his position as the favorite for the Kentucky Derby by winning Aqueduct's Grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial by a half-length over Funny Cide.

As if winning the 79th running of New York's final major tune-up for three-year-olds heading to the 129th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 3rd was not enough, Frankel later watched as another of his charges, Edmund A. Gann's Peace Rules, won the Toyota Blue Grass at Keeneland by three and half lengths on Saturday afternoon. Frankel was scheduled to leave New York at 11 a.m. on Sunday for California, while Empire Maker was to have left at 10 a.m. and was to arrive at Churchill Downs later Sunday afternoon.

Empire Maker with Jerry Bailey up.
"Empire Maker is battle-tested," Frankel said. "He's now had four races at a mile and an eighth. He handled a sealed track yesterday. He has learned a lot since the Florida Derby." It was Empire Maker's victory in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream that pushed him to the top of his division. A son of 1990 Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup Classic winner Unbridled, Empire Maker had been stamped as a horse that had inherited his sire's quirky disposition.

That personality trait did not surface at Aqueduct.

"The paddock at Gulfstream is small, and the people are right on top of you," Frankel said. "The only problem we had here was about two days ago when he didn't want to go into the (starting) gate. The gate crew took their time with him and got him to go in eventually. Then, we put blinkers on him and they got behind him and kind of nudged him in. He went in with no problem.

"The other thing with him is that when you hit him, he switches leads. But that whole switching leads thing is overrated. A lot of people will bring that up to show that they know something about horses. It's easy to see, so they pick right up on it. A lot of that is just people trying to find flaws." There weren't too many flaws in Empire Maker's performance, as he withstood Funny Cide and covered the nine furlongs in 1:48.70, the fastest of the three preps run that day at that distance.

Peace Rules winning the Blue Grass Stakes.

Later, Peace Rules and jockey Edgar Prado won the Blue Grass, going the nine furlongs in 1:51.73. Frankel's main concern for Peace Rules, a son of Jules, is distance.

"Peace Rules is a good horse and he's very game," Frankel said. "When horses get to him, they can't get by him so easy. He's tough and he never gives up. And don't forget, he beat Funny Cide (in the Louisiana Derby on March 9)." And don't forget two other three-year-olds in Frankel's care: Midas Eyes, a son of 1997 Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold who has won two of three starts, including Gulfstream's Grade 3, seven-furlong Swale; and Ghostzapper, a son of 1998 Breeders' Cup Classic and Whitney Handicap winner Awesome Again.

From a NYRA press release

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