07/19/2012 3:28PM

Calder: Empire Builder goes for three in a row in El Kaiser Stakes

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Empire Builder is the likely favorite for Saturday’s $75,000 El Kaiser Stakes at Calder.

With Trinniberg and Fort Loudon off to Saratoga for the summer, the best 3-year-olds remaining on the grounds at Calder will square off in Saturday’s $75,000 El Kaiser Stakes.

The mile and 70-yard El Kaiser is one of three stakes on Saturday’s 12-race program that also includes the $75,000 Three Ring for 3-year-old fillies and the $55,000 Primal for older horses going 1 1/16 miles over the main track.

Empire Builder and Csaba, who have swapped decisions in their last two meetings, will meet again in the El Kaiser, which is anything but a two-horse race. Awaiting the current division leaders will be Ravelo’s Boy, who competed earlier this summer in the Belmont Stakes; the red-hot trio of Azafran, Mr. Espresso, and Bellefire, each of whom enter the El Kaiser riding two-race winning streaks; and Two is to Many, a well-graded allowance winner here earlier this summer.

Empire Builder will likely be favored off back-to-back stakes victories, including an easy 4 3/4-length decision over Ravelo’s Boy in the American Dreamer for which he earned a career-best 93 Beyer Speed Figure.

Csaba handed Empire Builder his last defeat when getting away with a soft pace en route to a 5 3/4-length allowance win May 12. But Csaba was unable to repeat that effort returning on just two weeks’ rest when beaten a half-length by Empire Builder following a troubled trip as the 1-5 favorite in the Mambo Meister.

Ravelo’s Boy had been idle four months when finishing ninth in the Belmont Stakes. He returned locally for the first time as a 3-year-old just three weeks later, proving no match for Empire Builder in the American Dreamer.

Bellefire is a versatile sort who has won his last two starts, one each on turf and dirt, while appearing to improve and mature with each successive start. Mr. Espresso has posted two of his three career victories on grass but comes off his best effort yet over a sloppy main track four weeks earlier.

Azafran is another talented but still immature 3-year-old who stretches out around two turns while also trying stakes company for the first time in the El Kasier.

Frolic’s Revenge wheels back on relatively short rest to assume favoritism in the Three Ring, having registered a hard-fought nose decision over Montessa G. going a mile on the grass just 17 days earlier in the Strikethedancer Stakes. Frolic’s Revenge, who also won the grassy Calder Oaks here earlier in the meet, registered her most impressive victory to date on dirt when drawing away to an eye-catching 17-length decision in the Regal Gal.

Sister Pippa, who has won both her starts since joining trainer Marty Wolfson’s barn earlier this year; Awesome Belle, Sinister Tale, Macanuda, Sinister Brew, and Louisiana invader Unbeatable Wil round out the Three Ring lineup.

Oligarch and Numb Lips, second and third, respectively, behind the odds-on Where’s Sterling in the Mecke Stakes last month, should vie for favoritism along with stakes winner Cash Rules in the Primal.