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Practice Runs Go Smoothly

June 01, 2003|Bob Mieszerski | Times Staff Writer

Empire Maker and Dynever, the two 3-year-olds with the best chance of keeping Funny Cide from completing his sweep of the Triple Crown, had their final major works for the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.

With Aaron Gryder aboard, Empire Maker, who was second as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby, worked six furlongs in 1:13 for trainer Bobby Frankel. The son of Unbridled galloped out seven furlongs in 1:27.15 and ran his last three-eighths of a mile in 34 4/5.

"I was just looking for him to go well and he did," said Frankel. "He finished up well, but that doesn't mean anything."

Dynever, a son of Dynaformer who has won three in a row for trainer Christophe Clement, including the Lone Star Derby at Lone Star Park in Texas, went a half-mile in 48 2/5. Under exercise rider Christophe Lorieul, Dynever, who has only one defeat, galloped out six furlongs in 1:14 2/5.

"Let's go, let's go," said Clement, anxious to see how Dynever stacks up in his first start in a Grade I. "I'm very happy with everything. My horse is fit."

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No better than fifth in his first three starts of 2003, Joey Franco has turned things around since changing barns.

Moved to Darrell Vienna by owner-breeder Jerry Frankel after being trained by Dave Hofmans for the first 11 races of his career, the 4-year-old Avenue Of Flags colt has won two of three, including the $91,325 Ack Ack Handicap at Hollywood Park. In his only loss for Vienna, Joey Franco was second at nearly 25-1 to Bluesthestandard in the Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap on March 29 at Santa Anita.

Content to track the pace early under jockey Patrick Valenzuela, the lone Cal-bred in the field of seven took the lead around the turn while in the clear, then went on to beat 8-1 shot Kela by a length. The 5-2 second choice, Joey Franco ran the 7 1/2 furlongs in 1:27.15.

Jockey Corey Nakatani, the rider of the runner-up, lodged a claim of foul against the winner for alleged interference on the turn, but it was quickly dismissed by the stewards.

Publication, the 3-1 third choice, rallied for third, a neck in front of 7-5 Crafty C.T., who has been defeated six of the last seven times he has been favored.

Vienna indicated Joey Franco will make his next start in the $300,000 Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Handicap on July 5.

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Relishing the soggy turf course, Mariensky, a 13-1 shot, dominated seven opponents in the $150,000 Sheepshead Bay at Belmont Park.

Ridden by John Velasquez for the Waterville Lake Stables and Clement, the 4-year-old Gulch filly won by 8 1/4 lengths while completing the 1 3/8 miles in 2:28.19.

Lilac Queen, the 7-10 favorite who had won her first three starts in the U.S. for Frankel, finished fifth, more than 20 lengths behind the winner.

According to rider Jerry Bailey, she couldn't handle the extremely soft layout.

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Kim Loves Bucky ($10.40) won the $112,000 Louisville Handicap at Churchill Downs in a stakes-record 2:14.09 for the 1 3/8 miles on turf.

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