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Hollywood Park: Empire Way tries turf in Friday allowance
Any chance that Empire Way had of starting in the Kentucky Derby essentially ended with a ninth-place finish in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita on March 10. There may still be a derby for Empire Way later this year, perhaps on turf.
On Friday, Empire Way makes his racing debut on that surface in a $54,000 allowance race over a mile. Trained by Mike Harrington for Heinz Steinmann, Empire Way is the lone 3-year-old in a field of seven.
“He looks like he loves the turf, so we’ll have to see,” Harrington said. “He’s bred to like the turf. I think he’ll run on anything.”
Friday’s race also includes Gab Power, who has been second or third in four consecutive starts in allowance races or optional claimers since early December.
Harrington said he was encouraged by Empire Way’s half-mile workout on turf in 49.40 seconds at Hollywood Park on Sunday. By Empire Maker, Empire Way has been well-regarded by Steinmann and Harrrington since he won his debut last November. The preceding week, his then 3-year-old sister, Royal Delta, won the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic at Churchill Downs.
Empire Way has one win in five starts. After the San Felipe, Harrington said that he “backed off a little” in Empire Way’s training.
“I am starting over,” he said. “I got off the Derby trial. I’ve always said, I think he’ll be best in the fall because his sister was.”
Omayad making U.S. debut
Omayad, winner of three Group 1 races in Chile in 2011, makes his American debut in a $62,000 allowance race over a mile Friday evening, a race that could lead to a stakes appearance later this spring.
Trained by Neil Drysdale for Sumaya Us Stables, Omayad has not started since the only loss of his eight-race career, a second in the Group 1 Premio El Ensayo Cristal in Chile last November. In that race over 1 1/2 miles on turf, Omayad led in the stretch and was beaten a half-length.
Earlier in his career, Omayad won six consecutive group stakes, ranging in distances from 6 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/4 miles, all on turf.
Omayad is part of a field of six in Friday’s eighth race on a nine-race program. The race will be run at approximately 10:30 p.m. Pacific, a slight concern for Drysdale.
“He’s very straightforward,” Drysdale said. “I think he’ll run well. You never know what will happen under lights. There’s a concern because he’s never done that.”
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