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Max Express rules in $100,000 Empire Stakes at Horseshoe Indianapolis

Max Express has been a horse that has always been consistent and competitive throughout his career. He has been right there in many stakes races, but it wasn’t until the 21st running of the $100,000 Empire Stakes Wednesday at Horseshoe Indianapolis that his status changed from stakes placed to stakes winner.

The grey six-year-old (photo) scored the win with Geovanni Franco aboard in the one and one-sixteenth mile event in Shelbyville.

Starting from post five in the reduced field of seven, Max Express got away near the rear of the race and was gapping off the top flight of horses led by Mr Chaos and Rodney Prescott. Me and Chili and DeShawn Parker joined Mr Chaos in the pursuit for the top spot early on.

Heading into the final turn, Max Express was still eight lengths back from the leaders and began to make his move. Mr Chaos continued to lead the way into the stretch and Me and Chili was still in hot pursuit. Midway through the stretch, Max Express emerged as a potential threat and was able to pass up the leaders for the win in the final strides, winning by one length over Mr Chaos.

Me and Chili finished another neck back in third. The time of the event was 1:43.95.



Max Express rewarded his backers, paying $13.20 for the win. It was the second start aboard Max Express for the French-born Franco, who shipped in to pilot the horse for the second straight stakes race.

“I learned the last time that he likes to take his time,” said Franco. “So, I let him go out there and do his thing. Last time, he was a little bit rank on the grass, but he was fine today. This horse has a very big stride, so I just let the stride take over in the stretch. We were really running down the stretch fast, but he was able to get there. He’s very professional and answers any question that he is asked.”

It was the first win in five starts this season for Max Express, who has six career wins and has hit the board in 30 of his 44 career starts. The Indiana sired gelding now has more than $384,000 on his card for his connections.