Saturday, May 3, 2003
Derby packed with drama
Will favored Empire Maker recover for win?
By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer
LOUISVILLE - After an eventful week, Empire Maker seemingly has indicated he'll either beat the field in today's Kentucky Derby or beat himself.
The favorite has starred in weeklong cliffhangers concerning his foot and his focus. His contribution Friday: a sudden bolt to the outside rail during his gallop, leaving observers to wonder if he had either been jarred by a misstep on his bruised hoof or was living up to his flighty reputation.
THE KENTUCKY DERBY
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"He's making a soap opera of it," said his trainer, Bobby Frankel. "The drama rises!"
When Empire Maker rounded a turn during his gallop, he suddenly hung a hard, nearly sideways right, causing exercise rider Jose Cuevas to pull tight on the reins as they slid all the way across the track to the outside rail.
"It is documented; everything out of that mare (Toussaud) pulls stunts," Frankel said. "She pulled stunts and so do all her kids. But it's not a big deal."
Frankel said the scene, coupled with the bruise, will have an effect on Derby wagering. "We will probably be 3-1 now," Frankel said of the 6-5 morning-line favorite. But he said the foot injury isn't causing his horse pain.
"Bet against him at your own risk," he said. "He's going to run a big race."
In other news Friday, 15-1 shot Sir Cherokee was scratched because of a small ankle fracture, reducing the field to 16 horses.
Ten Most Wanted (6-1) and Peace Rules (8-1) are the next choices in the morning line. Post time is 6:04 p.m.
Directions to Churchill Downs: From I-71 South to Louisville, take I-65 South to Exit 132 (Crittenden Drive). Turn right on Central Avenue. Track is on left.
Tickets: $40 general-admission tickets will be sold today.
This is the eighth year Enquirer reporter Neil Schmidt has covered the Kentucky Derby. Here are his picks for this year's race:
Ten Most Wanted
Our guide to The Kentucky Derby (PDF; 960k)
Churchill Downs map/directions (PDF; 230k)
The Kentucky Derby field (PDF; 120k)
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