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Frankel's Good Day Is Ruined

Favorite Empire Maker finishes second and probably won't run in the Preakness in two weeks.

May 04, 2003|Bill Christine | Times Staff Writer

LOUISVILLE, Ky — LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Although trainer Bobby Frankel still thinks Empire Maker is better than Funny Cide, Saturday's Kentucky Derby winner, the 1-2 finishers at Churchill Downs are not expected to have a rematch in the Preakness at Pimlico in two weeks.

"[My opinion] doesn't change what happened," Frankel said after Empire Maker's 1 3/4-length defeat.

Frankel said it is more likely he will run Peace Rules against Funny Cide in the Preakness. Peace Rules led the Derby with a quarter-mile left, before finishing third, only a head behind Empire Maker.

"I don't know what I'll do with Empire Maker next," Frankel said. "This isn't the biggest disappointment [of his career], but it is a disappointment."

Before the Derby, Frankel was on his way to a career day. His horses had won three stakes on the Churchill Downs undercard and finished second in another race. Frankel's barn had already earned $444,444 in purses, and with second and third money in the Derby, that total grew to $699,444.

He probably would have traded all that for a win in the Derby. His day was not unlike that of jockey Pat Day's in 1989. Day won five early races, but his heavy favorite, Easy Goer, was beaten by Sunday Silence in the Derby.

Frankel is winless with six Derby starters, his closest finishes before Saturday a second with Aptitude in 2000 and a fourth with Medaglia d'Oro last year.

Day had a disappointing ninth-place finish Saturday with Ten Most Wanted, the Illinois Derby winner.

"He just didn't show up," Day said. "I know he's capable of much better."

Wally Dollase, Ten Most Wanted's trainer, was without an explanation.

"I can't understand it," Dollase said. "Pat said he was in a good spot with him and moving easy, and then there wasn't anything there."

Atswhatimtalknbout, a respectable 8-1 even though he went into the Derby minus a stakes win, was 12th after half a mile before finishing fourth.

"All the way around, I kept looking for room," jockey David Flores said. "When we started to turn for home, he was behind a wall [of horses]. The [adding of] blinkers made him a completely different horse, and he was very tough."

Buddy Gil, the Santa Anita Derby winner, was another gelding, as Funny Cide was, trying to win the race. He finished sixth.

"He didn't break very well and all I could do was save ground," jockey Gary Stevens said. "I really only got him to run an eighth of a mile. My trip was over after the second stride out of the gate. We'll wait for the Preakness."

Indian Express, trying to give trainer Bob Baffert his fourth Derby win in the last seven years, was fighting jockey Tyler Baze early, had trouble going into the first turn, and beat only two horses.

"The trip wasn't what I expected," Baze said. "He got stupid right out of the gate, and we were left behind, just where I didn't want to be."

Frankel's early winners were Aldebaran in the $200,000 Churchill Downs Handicap; Heat Haze in the $100,000 Citgo Distaff Turf Mile; and Sightseek in the $200,000 Humana Distaff Handicap. Frankel's Requete finished second to Honor In War in the $400,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic.

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