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Empire Maker bags ‘Belmont’
Empire Maker (right), ridden by Jerry Bailey, leads Ten Most Wanted and favourite Funny Cide down the home stretch en route to winning the Belmont Stakes in Elmont, New York on Saturday (AFP)

Elmont (Reuters): Empire Maker ended Funny Cide's storybook quest for the first ‘triple crown’ in 25 years by winning the $1 million Belmont Stakes Saturday.

Over a sloppy track from a daylong deluge, the Bobby Frankel-trained horse overtook Funny Cide on the final turn and captured the 1 1/2 mile race by holding off second-place Ten Most Wanted by three-quarters of a length.

Funny Cide, still in contention at the top of the stretch, never found the fire that carried him to a 9 3/4-length victory in the Preakness two weeks ago, and settled for third, 4 1/4 lengths behind Ten Most Wanted as the New York crowd cheered mightily for their hometown hero but to no avail.”

”I'm not disappointed at all about this horse,” said Funny Cide jockey Jose Santos.“He had a great run. Funny Cide was not handling the track today. Some horses run better on a track like this than others. This is not a cheap excuse. It's true. ”If the horse is not there, there's nothing you can do about it,” he added.“When I asked my horse to go, he was not there... He'll be back.”

Empire Maker's jockey, Jerry Bailey, said he could tell midway through the race that Funny Cide did not have what it takes to become racing 12th triple crown champion. He made his move on the front-running gelding at the midway point of the far turn. ”When I turned up the backside I knew I had Funny Cide because he was pulling on Jose and my horse was very relaxed. If they pull on you all the way, they've got nothing left when they turn for home. I thought (Empire Maker) was the best horse going into the race,” Bailey said.


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