Before American Pharoah was even a thought came a horse by the name of Empire Maker. Heard of him? In Empire Maker, the late great Bobby Frankel likely possessed a horse capable of winning the elusive Triple Crown. Incredibly talented and aptly named, Empire Maker was bred and owned by racing juggernaut Juddmonte Farm. Empire Maker was sired by 1990 Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled and his dam was the blue hen mare Toussaud, a filly that Frankel had trained during her racetrack career.
As a two-year-old, Empire Maker won his first start by 3 1/2 lengths. In his only other start at two he finished third in the Remsen after acting fractious in the gate, breaking slowly and than having dirt kicked in his face. Put away for the winter, Empire Maker began his three-year-old campaign by finishing a disappointing second as the favorite in the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita. For his next start in the prestigious Florida Derby, Frankel added blinkers to the colt that made all the difference in his form, as Empire Maker proceeded to annihilate the Florida Derby field by record margin of 9 3/4 lengths.