Matthew Schera's multiple graded-stakes winner Glorious Empire, a finalist for the Eclipse Award as the top male turf horse of 2018, continues to progress toward his 8-year-old debut.
Sidelined since an impressive triumph in the Fort Lauderdale (G2) Dec. 15 at Gulfstream Park over a field that included 13 graded-stakes winners, five of them Grade 1, Glorious Empire has worked three times since mid-July over the all-weather surface at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md.
Trainer James 'Chuck' Lawrence II said Glorious Empire came out of his most recent work, a half-mile in 51.60 seconds Friday, in good shape. He also shows a pair of three-furlong moves, both in 38.80 seconds July 13 and 27.
“It was his first easy half,” Lawrence said. “Each week, he's picking up the pace. So far, he's looking good.”
Glorious Empire launched last season at Laurel Park, running sixth in the Henry S. Clark Stakes following a seven-month layoff. He reeled off three straight wins including the Bowling Green (G2) and Sword Dancer (G1) at Saratoga, then was 13th in the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1), contested over a bog at Churchill Downs, prior to the Fort Lauderdale.
The Irish-bred Glorious Empire, who sits just $33,773 shy of the $1 million mark in career earnings, came out of the Fort Lauderdale with a tear in his right front suspensory ligament. He underwent an innovative procedure that included minor surgery Jan. 5 and a stem cell infusion to promote healing.
“I'm bringing him back nice and slow. We're looking at hopefully September, but it may take a little longer. He's big and strong and he's doing everything that I'm asking,” Lawrence said. “We're just monitoring him and targeting. I don't think we'll make early September. I was hoping to, but I think it's going to take a little longer to get him fit. I don't really have a target at the moment. We're just going to let him tell us.”
Lawrence and Schera left it up to Glorious Empire whether he would even return in 2019, and so far the Holy Roman Emperor gelding, who began his career overseas and owns wins in Europe and Hong Kong, is up to the task.
“It was whether he wanted to come back and that his leg looked 100 percent. That'll be the telltale thing, once we actually work him five-eighths. That'll tell us a lot,” Lawrence sasid. “So far, he looks really good. He doesn't owe us anything. He's so much fun to train, and hopefully when we get back to actually racing, it'll be even more fun.”
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