07/08/2003 11:00PM

Empire Maker has "nice and easy" workout

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Empire Maker, winner of the Belmont Stakes and the co-leader of the 3-year-old division with rival Funny Cide, returned to the track early Wednesday morning for a relatively slow four-furlong workout over the main track at Belmont Park.

Empire Maker was timed in 51.03, breezing, in the workout, which took place at 6:15 a.m., according to trainer Bobby Frankel. The time was the fifth-slowest of the 23 works at the distance on Wednesday.

The work was noticeably slower than Empire Maker's previous two works since his Belmont win on June 7. On July 2, Empire Maker blazed five furlongs in 59.02 seconds, second-fastest of the day, and on June 24, he worked five furlongs in 58.64.

Frankel said Wednesday's work went exactly to plan. "He just went nice and easy," Frankel said. "He's been working too fast."

After Empire Maker's July 2 work, Frankel had complained that Empire Maker was "too fresh" and working too briskly, and he had said that he was considering a shorter breeze for the colt's next work.

Empire Maker is still on track for his next start, the Grade 2, $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga Racecourse on Aug. 3, according to Frankel.

The Jim Dandy will be a prep for Empire Maker's main goal, the Travers Stakes on Aug. 23, where he is expected to face Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide.