Updated on 09/17/2011 11:26AM

Empire Maker nails workout

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Empire Maker registers the best of five works at six furlongs on Monday at Belmont Park with a time of 1:11.51.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Empire Maker, who has been fighting an illness or allergies on and off for the last month, on Monday may have worked himself back into the picture for the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup by drilling six furlongs in 1:11.51 at Belmont Park.

Empire Maker, with Edgar Prado up, broke off about four lengths behind stablemate El Gran Papa, with Angel Cordero Jr. up, and finished a head in front at the wire. The final time was the best of five works at the distance. El Gran Papa was credited with a time of 1:12.01.

"Edgar said he went good," trainer Bobby Frankel said. "He seems fine, he didn't cough or nothing, and is already cooled out. He was really alive this morning.

"If I can get another good work into him I think he'll be fine."

The Jockey Club Gold Cup, run at 1 1/4 miles, is slated for Sept. 27.

It was only last Wednesday that Frankel thought Empire Maker might have to miss the Gold Cup because he was coughing. Empire Maker, who was scratched from the Aug. 23 Travers due to a cough and mucus in his trachea, missed three days of training last week. He returned to the track on Friday and after jogging and galloping over the weekend, he turned in his strong breeze on Monday. He had breezed twice in between the Travers and last week's setback.

Frankel said Empire Maker is still on clenbuterol, a medication that some horsemen use to train their horses, but one that is not permitted to be in a horse's system on race day.

"I got time to take him off," Frankel said.

Frankel said he hoped to work Empire Maker Saturday or Sunday before making a final determination on his status for the Gold Cup.

Frankel said Monday that Wild Spirit, easy winner of Saturday's Grade 1 Ruffian Handicap, came out of the race in good order. Initially, Frankel said he would point Wild Spirit to the Grade 1, $750,000 Beldame here on Oct. 4 and run Sightseek in the Grade 1, $500,000 Spinster on Oct. 5. On Monday, Frankel said he could flip-flop the two mares though he hasn't made a final decision.

Sightseek, who was originally being pointed to the Ruffian before a cough prevented her from running, worked a half-mile in 49.44 seconds Sunday over Belmont's main track.

Mineshaft works a fast five furlongs

Should Empire Maker run in the Gold Cup, he will have to face Mineshaft, a three-time Grade 1 winner and the leader of the handicap division. On Monday, Mineshaft worked five furlongs in 59.65 seconds, the fastest of 19 at the distance.

The work was moved up a day because of the threat of rain potentially creating a wet track on Tuesday. Thus, trainer Neil Howard missed the breeze because he was in Florida visiting family. Assistant trainer Kevin Kahkola oversaw the move and was pleased with how Mineshaft looked.

"This was a work to tell us how he came out of the race, and he looks like he bounced out of it pretty well," Kahkola said. "We're pleased with him and that he did it so willingly and so easily."

Regular exercise rider Annie Finney was aboard for the move, Mineshaft's first since winning the Gold Cup on Sept. 6.

"He felt great," Finney said. "He likes this track a lot. He pretty much skips over anything. He knows the drill. He's smarter than 90 percent of the human population in the world."

Struggling Volponi still Classic-bound

Despite suffering his sixth consecutive loss, Volponi remains on target to defend his title in the Breeders' Cup Classic, according to trainer Phil Johnson.

Volponi finished third in Saturday's Belmont Breeders' Cup on turf, which virtually eliminates any consideration Johnson had for pre-entering Volponi in either the BC Mile or BC Turf. However, Johnson said he would stick with his original plan of running Volponi in the $400,000 Meadowlands Cup on Oct. 3 and the Classic on Oct. 25. Last year, Volponi finished second in the Meadowlands Cup before winning the Classic.

Johnson said Volponi came out of Saturday's race in great shape. Despite Volponi being 0 for 6 this year, Johnson said he has not lost any confidence in the horse. Volponi has finished second behind the likes of Medaglia d'Oro, Mineshaft, Iron Deputy, and Puzzlement.

"I think he's had a better this year than last year," Johnson said. "Of course, he's running into better horses. We'll adjust his style of running in the Meadowlands Cup, which we'll bring to California. I'm very satisfied with him. Now, after the Meadowlands Cup the story may change, but I don't think it will. If it does, I'll have some cheap tickets to California to give away."

Lady Tak breezes

Lady Tak breezed five furlongs in 1:03.51 Monday over the Belmont Park training track, her first work since losing the Gazelle by a half-length to Buy the Sport. Trainer Steve Asmussen said he was happy with the work - which was done in company with Bwana Charlie - but he has not decided whether to run Lady Tak again before the Breeders' Cup Distaff or simply train her up to that race.

If he chooses to run Lady Tak before the Distaff the two most likely options would be the Beldame at Belmont or Spinster at Keeneland.

"I think she's the most talented 3-year-old filly out there," Asmussen said. "I need to get it proven for obvious reasons. We need to run our filly when we feel she's ready to run. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the older mares who are out there. We feel like we have some unfinished business."

Lady Tak has won the Grade 1 Test and the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks this year and suffered narrow defeats in the Acorn and Gazelle. Bird Town, who is 2-1 versus Lady Tak, is one of Lady Tak's primary rivals for divisional honors. Her next start is undetermined.

Asmussen said that Cuvee, impressive winner of Sunday's Grade 1 Futurity, came out of his race in good order and is on target for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. The Asmussen-trained Bauhauser, upset winner of the Grade 3 Floral Park Handicap, will be pointed to the Grade 2 First Flight Handicap at Belmont on Oct. 25.

Posse, the Riva Ridge winner, worked five furlongs in 1:01.23 in company with Ana's Lady Bird. Posse could run next in either the Grade 1 Vosburgh at Belmont on Sept. 27 or the Grade 3 Phoenix Breeders' Cup at Keeneland on Oct. 3.

Injured Coa out two weeks or more

Jockey Eibar Coa is expected to be out at least two weeks after suffering an injury to his left thigh when he was unseated during the running of Sunday fifth race. Coa received several stitches to repair a cut, according to his agent, Joe Ferrer.

"It looks like he'll be out eight to 10 days," Ferrer said.

Coa was aboard One Last Chance, the 3-5 favorite in a New York-bred maiden race, when that horse broke his left foreleg midway through the race. Coa landed hard on his back and was stepped on by two trailing horses. Coa told Ferrer that he was hit on the shoulder, but luckily he did not suffer an injury to the shoulder.

One Last Chance had to be euthanized on the track. Earlier on the card, Chase Lake, a 2-year-old filly trained by Pat Kelly, had to euthanized after breaking her left foreleg.

* Whitmore's Conn, who won the Bowling Green and Sword Dancer earlier this year, will not run in the Grade 1 Turf Classic Invitational after incurring a yet-to-be determined injury, his trainer Randy Schulhofer said Monday.

"He's got some swelling in his left pastern and I'm going to ultrasound him [Tuesday] and we'll know more then," Schulhofer said.

* Jockey Cornelio Velasquez dropped his appeal of one careless riding suspension incurred at Saratoga and was scheduled to begin serving a 10-day suspension on Wednesday. He'll be eligible to return on Sept. 27.