10/21/2002 12:00AM

Empire Maker's debut win validates prerace hype

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Trainer Bobby Frankel has a plethora of stakes horses, so when he is really high on a particular horse, it's worth taking note.

On Sunday, closing day at the Belmont Park fall meet, Frankel's Empire Maker lived up to his prerace hype by easily winning his career debut. Now the 2-year-old Empire Maker, who is a half to Grade 1 winners Chester House, Honest Lady, and Chiselling, will be pointed to the Grade 2 Remsen at Aqueduct on Nov. 30.

"I was very happy with the race. You couldn't have asked for a better blueprint," Frankel said Monday morning at Belmont before leaving for Chicago, where he will saddle several horses in Saturday's Breeders' Cup.

Empire Maker, a son of Unbridled out of Toussaud, won the mile maiden race by 3 1/2 lengths under a hand ride. With Jerry Bailey in the saddle, Empire Maker covered the distance in 1:37.51.

Empire Maker had been entered to run twice before, but was scratched when Frankel was unhappy with the track condition and the post.

"I think this is a special horse," Frankel said. "It was like a public workout for him. He broke better and showed more speed than I thought he would. He's a very kind horse to ride."

Empire Maker, who is owned and bred by Juddmonte Farms, was scheduled to leave on Monday for California. The colt was flying from New York on a plane to Chicago with Frankel's Breeders' Cup starters, including Medaglia d'Oro and Milwaukee Brew. The plane was then scheduled to go on to California.

Empire Maker will train in California before returning for the $200,000 Remsen, which will be run two days after Thanksgiving as part of Aqueduct's HolidayFest Weekend.

Frankel had no anxious moments watching Empire Maker's race, but the trainer did admit he "was a little scared" while watching his Grade 1 winner Lido Palace work hard to win a classified allowance, three races later.

Lido Palace, the heavy favorite, was a half-length winner over Griffinite in the 1 1/8-mile race. With Jorge Chavez in the saddle, Lido Palace battled head to head with Ground Storm through six furlongs in 1:09.76 and then had to hold off the late-charging Griffinite.

"He's a funny horse," Frankel said. "When [Griffinite] ran up to him and he saw him, he took off. I was pleased."

In a few days, Lido Palace will return to California, where he will be prepared for the $400,000 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 29.

With the exception of a few horses, Frankel planned to have all his horses shipped out of Belmont by the end of the week.

Saarland nears return to races

Saarland, who is getting closer to a return to the races, worked five furlongs in 1:02.97 over Belmont's main track on Monday.

Trainer Shug McGaughey said Saarland, who hasn't run since finishing 10th in the Kentucky Derby, is about two to three weeks away from a race.

Last year, Saarland won the Remsen at Aqueduct.

* The final three days of the Belmont fall meet produced minus show pools each day. On Friday, Roar Emotion, who finished second at 1-9, was responsible for a minus show pool of $90,589. Funny Cide, who won Saturday's Sleepy Hollow, had a minus show pool of $88,415. Lido Palace created a minus show pool of $110,165 when $616,365 was bet on him to show, out of a total pool of $648,839.

* Trainers Todd Pletcher and Richard Dutrow Jr. ended the 33-day Belmont fall meet in a tie for first place in the standings, with 18 winners apiece. Pletcher also won the Belmont spring/summer and Saratoga meets.

John Velazquez was the runaway winner in the jockey standings with 50 winners.