08/20/2003 11:00PM

Empire Maker doubtful for Travers


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker will probably be scratched from Saturday's $1 million Travers Stakes, trainer Bobby Frankel said Thursday morning.

On Wednesday, Frankel said that Empire Maker had coughed a few times and had a ``tiny bit of mucous'' the last time he underwent an endoscopic examination. On Thursday, Frankel said Empire Maker had left a handful of grain from the previous evening. Frankel also said the horse was ``quiet'' Thursday morning and Frankel did not take him to the track to train. It was the third time in five days that Empire Maker did not go to the track.

``He left over a handful of feed, that's more concern to me than anything else,'' Frankel said. ``If he had ate up and everything I would have sent him to the track. He's probably not going to run, but it's not definite.''

If he scratches Empire Maker, Frankel would still run in the Travers with Haskell winner Peace Rules. Frankel said he would then point Empire Maker to the Grade 1 Woodward on Sept. 6.

Meanwhile, trainer Barclay Tagg said he has not yet decided whether Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide would run in the Travers. Funny Cide galloped 1 1-2 miles over the Clare Court, half-mile track Thursday morning. Tagg said he would probably wait until early Saturday afternoon before deciding.

``I'm going to give him another day of galloping [Friday] see how he is, see what his blood test is like see what the weather is going to be like,'' Tagg said. ``I'm not going to run him on a really, really hot day. I'm not going to run him if his blood hasn't changed for the better, and I'm not going to run him if the race stays like it is.''

Given the fact the temperatures are supposed to be in the mid 70s and that Empire Maker is likely to withdraw, only a bad blood test would likely keep Funny Cide from running.