Empire Maker officially out of Preakness

May 11, 2003 at 10:02 PM
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BALTIMORE, May 11 (UPI) -- Apparently convinced that the investigation of jockey Jose Santos at the Kentucky Derby will reveal no smoking gun, trainer Bobby Frankel plans to enter Peace Rules and not Empire Maker in Saturday's Preakness Stakes.

Santos, who last week rode Funny Cide to victory at the Kentucky Derby, is being investigated after a photograph showed something besides his whip might have been in his hand as he crossed the finish line.

Stewards at Churchill Downs have begun an investigation into questions surrounding the photograph published in The Miami Herald.

Only one winning horse -- Dancer's Image in 1968 -- has ever been disqualified from the Kentucky Derby and it is not known when a decision will be rendered concerning Funny Cide.

Frankel at first took the news as a chance to get Empire Maker back in the Triple Crown picture Saturday at Pimlico Race Course.

If Funny Cide, the first gelding to win the Derby since 1929, is disqualified, pre-race favorite Empire Maker would be declared the winner. That would give the Derby runner-up a shot at the Triple Crown.

Frankel initially said Empire Maker would skip the second leg of the Triple Crown and he would chose between Peace Rules or Midas Eyes to run in the Preakness. On Saturday, however, Frankel told Maryland Jockey Club CEO Lou Reffetto he likely would enter Empire Maker. By Sunday morning, Frankel had returned to his original plan.

"It doesn't look like anything is going to happen," Frankel said of the investigation. "Peace Rules will run in the Preakness and Midas Eyes will go in the Met Mile (at Belmont Park on Memorial Day)."

Peace Rules, who finished third in the Kentucky Derby behind Funny Cide and Empire Maker, will travel by van from Belmont Bark in New York to Baltimore on Wednesday.

Funny Cide, Scrinshaw, Senor Swinger, Champali, Midway Road, Cherokee's Boy, Alysweep and Kissin Saint are the other confirmed starters for Saturday's race.

Trainer Bob Baffert scratched Indian Express on Sunday due to a minor foot injury.

As for the investigation, Kentucky Racing Commission rules do not prohibit a jockey from holding an object other than a whip, except those specifically prohibited, like an electrical device that might help the horse run faster.

The photo depicts a dark area in the space between Santos' hand and whip, although it is not clear what -- if anything -- he was holding.

Santos is scheduled to meet with Churchill Downs stewards on Monday in Louisville. Before leaving, he received a show of support from New York jockeys on Sunday.

"As a group, we felt strong and we all wanted to come out and support Jose," said jockey Richard Migliore, a spokesman for the group. "We feel that the charges that have come up are unfounded and unfair. It has tarnished a great ride by a great horse in a great race."

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