Updated on 09/17/2011 12:31PM

Empire Maker all but retired


ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Bobby Frankel said Thursday "it's a longshot'' for Empire Maker to be ready for the Breeders' Cup Classic, and he believes the horse will be retired without running again.

Empire Maker suffered a bruised left front foot this week, knocking him out of Saturday's $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont. Empire Maker has not run since finishing second in the Jim Dandy Stakes on Aug. 3 at Saratoga. Although there was no official word on Empire Maker's future from his owner, Juddmonte Farms, Frankel said he thinks his career is over.

"I don't think they'll run him again this year,'' Frankel said. "He's too valuable. He's got a great luster about him even though he got beat a few times. He might go next year and not have a straw in his path, but it's a gamble.''

Before news of Empire Maker's injury was made public, Dr. John Chandler, president of Juddmonte Farms, said there had been no decision made on Empire Maker's status for next year. Chandler said he wanted to see how the colt ended his 3-year-old campaign before making that call. Chandler was unavailable for comment Thursday.

Even if Empire Maker does not run again this year, he will still be involved in one more race, for the 3-year-old championship. Empire Maker has won three Grade 1 races - the Florida Derby, Wood Memorial, and Belmont Stakes - and has beaten Funny Cide two of the three times they met. Funny Cide, however, beat Empire Maker in the Kentucky Derby and was an impressive 9 1/4-length winner in the Preakness, a race in which Empire Maker did not run.

"Right now, he should be 3-year-old champion,'' Frankel said of Empire Maker. "If Ten Most Wanted jumps up and wins the Breeders' Cup [Classic] then, sure, give it to him.''

Frankel said that Peace Rules should not be eliminated from championship consideration should he win the Breeders' Cup Mile. That would give him three Grade 1 wins over two surfaces.

Funny Cide doubtful for next weekend

Four barns away from Frankel's headquarters on the Belmont backstretch, trainer Barclay Tagg continues to contemplate how he can help Funny Cide earn the 3-year-old championship. Tagg said he believes that a horse who wins the Kentucky Derby and Preakness should be able to win a championship, but he knows that many voters will look at Empire Maker's record against Funny Cide.

Tagg would like to run Funny Cide again this year and has targeted the Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 29. How he gets there, however, is not as clear.

Tagg has basically ruled out sending Funny Cide in either the Meadowlands Cup or the Indiana Derby next weekend. Tagg said that his owners, the partners in Sackatoga Stable, don't want to go to Indiana, and that he believes Funny Cide needs more than four works "to go in a race the magnitude of the Meadowlands Cup.'' Funny Cide has not run since finishing third in the Haskell on Aug. 3.

A poor turf work on Wednesday removed Funny Cide from consideration for the Kelso - unless that race was rained off the turf

Tagg had mentioned the $250,000 Empire Classic at Belmont on Oct. 18, but fears that a loss to New York-breds could cause irreparable harm in the voting.

"I don't have anything to gain by it,'' Tagg said. "If he should stumble and lose it, he's in big trouble. But, I'm not ruling it out.''

Tagg also is considering the Discovery Handicap at Aqueduct on Oct. 29, though he's not thrilled that the purse is only $100,000.

Meanwhile, Tagg is in limbo when it comes to his top 3-year-old filly, Island Fashion, and her next start. Wednesday, Island Fashion worked a strong five furlongs in 1:01.08, in company with the 2-year-old New York-bred Saratoga Episode, who was timed in 1:02.65.

Tagg said Island Fashion could run in either the Beldame at Belmont or the Cotillion at Philadelphia Park. Both races are on Oct. 4.

Saratoga Episode, who like Funny Cide is owned by Sackatoga Stable, will start in Sunday's $100,000 Bertram Bongard Stakes. That was the same race Funny Cide won by nine lengths last year.

Tagg expected more from Saratoga Episode in his workout, in which he started five lengths in front of Island Fashion but finished three behind.

"I was very disappointed in the way Saratoga Episode worked the other day,'' Tagg said. "I don't know if something was bothering him or if there was a miscalculation on the rider's part. We'll let Robin [Smullen] get on him [Friday] and see if we need to something more with him.''

Maple Syrple out for the year

Maple Syrple, a 2-year-old filly recently purchased by Darley Stable, underwent surgery to repair a hairline fracture to her right foreleg and will miss the remainder of the year, according to trainer Tom Albertrani.

Maple Syrple won her first two races in Canada, including the restricted Clarendon Stakes. Team Valor and Robert Wilson then sold her to Darley in late August. She was transferred from trainer Mark Casse to Albertrani.

"She didn't necessarily need the surgery, we just felt it was better to do it that way to help the recovery process,'' Albertrani said. "You probably won't see her back to the races until sometime in the spring.''

Wonder Again points for WinStar Galaxy

Wonder Again, the winner of last Saturday's Grade 3 Noble Damsel, will run back in the Grade 2 WinStar Galaxy at Keeneland on Oct. 5.

Jimmy Toner, Wonder Again's trainer, said it is unlikely that Wonder Again, a 4-year-old, will run back in the $1 million Filly and Mare Turf on Oct. 25 at Santa Anita.

"The Breeders' Cup might be a stretch," Toner said. "The division is pretty deep and you don't know if you would get into the field and would hate to ship there and be on the bubble. The WinStar is back in two weeks, but she hasn't been overraced this year and came out of her last race very well."

The Noble Damsel was Wonder Again's first win of the year and her first since last year's Grade 1 Garden City Breeders' Cup at Belmont Park. Before the Noble Damsel, she lost four starts, with her best finish a second in the Grade 3 Beaugay at Aqueduct on May 3.

Toner said myriad things went wrong for Wonder Again this year and that's why winning the Noble Damsel was so rewarding. "We're finally going into a race with her physically and mentally in good order," Toner said.

Wonder Again will be vanned to Kentucky on Monday. Edgar Prado, aboard in the Noble Damsel, will have the mount.

Snake Mountain back in training

Snake Mountain, one of the top handicap horses in New York last winter, is working toward a return to the races. Thursday, Snake Mountain covered a half-mile in 50.51 seconds on Belmont's training track. It was Snake Mountain's second work since he received a summer freshening on a Long Island farm.

In his last race, Snake Mountain bled when he finished sixth in the Pimlico Special on May 16. Jimmy Jerkens, Snake Mountain's trainer, wasn't happy with the way the 5-year-old gelding was training after the Pimlico Special and decided to give him a vacation.

"I'm looking to get him back to the races in late fall - hopefully, in a money allowance," Jerkens said.

Last fall and earlier this year, Snake Mountain went on a tear at Aqueduct and won the Stuyvesant, Queens County, Aqueduct, and Stymie in succession.

Jerkens reported that another one of his stakes winners, Message Red, is back in training following surgery to remove an ankle chip. Jerkens expects the New York-bred Message Red to be ready to race later in the fall.

- additional reporting by Karen M. Johnson