Empire Maker's bruise fails to worry Frankel

Trainer '98 percent sure' favorite will be ready

Baffert's Kafwain out

Kentucky Derby notebook

Horse Racing

April 30, 2003|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Empire Maker, the favorite in the Kentucky Derby, has a slight bruise on his right front foot that his trainer says shouldn't affect his performance in the race.

"My vet doesn't think it's a real problem," said trainer Bobby Frankel, referring to veterinarian Ken Reed. "In fact, if this wasn't the Kentucky Derby and all the attention that goes with that, this would never be an issue."

Empire Maker and his stablemate, Peace Rules, jogged one mile yesterday around the Churchill Downs oval. The bruise was discovered when the horses returned to the barn.

Frankel said Empire Maker bruised the foot in his last race, the Wood Memorial Stakes at Aqueduct. He said Reed recommended the colt be walked around the shedrow today and sent back to the track tomorrow.

"They said the track was a little hard this morning, and it might have affected him," Frankel said. "But I really think he's going to be OK. You can never be 100 percent sure in this business, but I'd say I'm 98 percent sure he'll be all right."

One horse, however, was withdrawn yesterday from the Derby. Kafwain, the Bob Baffert trainee, apparently injured a ligament in his right front foot during a five-furlong workout with stablemate Indian Express.

"He's out," Baffert said of Kafwain. "He didn't cool out well ... It looks like a check ligament in his right front. We'll have him X-rayed to find out."

Baffert also said that Senor Swinger, under consideration for the Derby, will run instead Friday in the Crown Royal American Turf at Churchill Downs.

That leaves Baffert one Derby horse, Indian Express, who breezed five furlongs in 59 3/5 seconds. Baffert said it was Indian Express's best work ever.

Meanwhile, two horses joined the field after encouraging works: Eye of the Tiger, runner-up in the Lexington Stakes, and Lone Star Sky, fourth in the Illinois Derby.

Eye on the draw

Post positions will be drawn today for the Derby. ESPN will televise the draw in a one-hour broadcast starting at 5 p.m.

A slight change has been made to both the Derby and Preakness draws. The first phase, the draw for the order of selecting post positions, will be conducted after entries are taken in the morning.

For the Derby, that will take place in the racing office, for the Preakness in the press box.

ESPN will show only the selection of post positions for the Derby and Preakness.

Hine elected to Hall

Sonny Hine, a trainer in Maryland for three decades, will be inducted Aug. 4 into racing's Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

The announcement was made yesterday at Churchill Downs. Joining Hine in the class of 2003 will be jockey Mike Smith and horses Dance Smartly and Precisionist.

Carolyn Hine, wife of the late trainer, greeted his selection with tears of joy.

"It's amazing; I guess we're all guilty of the same things," she said. "We wish for things, we pray for things, we hope for things. And my prayers have been answered.

"Unfortunately, there are not enough words in the world to express how I feel today. The only thing that I regret is that my husband is not here to accept this."

Hine, 69, died March 17, 2000. His best-known horse was Skip Away.

"When I was told of his election, I just fell apart," said Carolyn, who lives in Florida.

"I just looked out the window and kept thanking God. When they called, they swear you to secrecy, and I told them I had to tell one person. I have to go to the cemetery and tell Sonny."

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