Updated on 09/17/2011 10:06AM

A runaway for Empire Maker

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Racing with blinkers for the first time, Empire Maker, with Jerry Bailey riding, is the dominating Florida Derby winner for trainer Bobby Frankel.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Empire Maker finally lived up to all the hype that began before he had even run his first race as a 2-year-old. Saturday, he drew off to a devastating 9 3/4-length victory over the even-money favorite, Trust N Luck, and five other overmatched rivals in the $1 million . The winning margin was easily the largest in the 52-year history of the Grade 1 event.

Empire Maker, a son of Unbridled out of Toussaud, became the fourth Grade 1 winner for his dam, who had already produced Chester House, Honest Lady, and Chiselling. He is trained by Bobby Frankel for Juddmonte Farms.

Frankel put blinkers on Empire Maker for the first time in the Florida Derby, and both he and jockey Jerry Bailey agreed the equipment change was instrumental in his success. Bailey had to restrain Empire Maker down the backstretch to keep him off the pace of Trust N Luck, who was pressed through rapid early fractions by Midway Cat and Formal Attire.

Empire Maker eased out to engage Trust N Luck midway around the second turn, then readily drew away from the tiring favorite when roused by Bailey inside the eighth pole. Trust N Luck outlasted Indy Dancer by a half-length to finish second. They were followed by Supah Blitz, Senor Swinger, and Formal Attire.

Midway Cat fell entering the stretch and was euthanized after fracturing the cannon bone in his right front leg. His jockey, Jorge Chavez, was conscious and alert but complained of back pains. Paramedics were concerned about head injuries. He was taken to Hollywood Regional Hospital for X-rays.

Empire Maker covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.05 over a track upgraded from good to fast earlier in the day.

"The blinkers made a huge difference," said Frankel. "He broke alertly and was right there."

Said Bailey, "He'd been looking around and giving up two or lengths into the first turn in all his earlier races. He didn't do that today."

Bailey said that when he saw Trust N Luck's jockey, Cornelio Velasquez, attempt to urge his mount leaving the three-eighths pole "and the horse wasn't responding, I knew I had him."

Frankel said he might consider training Empire Maker right into the Kentucky Derby.

"This horse is bred to go six miles, so I'm not worried about his stamina," said Frankel. "I was originally thinking of going to the Wood but I'll have to analyze this race before I make a decision. He went five weeks between races coming into this race, and he can go seven into the Derby without a problem."

Trainer Ralph Ziadie said he was pleased with Trust N Luck's performance, even in defeat, and if all goes well will stick to his plan of also training his horse right into the Kentucky Derby.

- additional reporting by David Grening