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Derby Favorite Empire Maker Captures Wood Memorial

Empire Maker held off Funny Cide down the stretch to capture the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.

Sent off as the 1-2 favorite, Empire Maker covered the 1 1/8 miles in a time of 1:48.70 and will head into the Kentucky Derby on May 3 as the heavy favorite.

"You get overconfident, but you can't get overconfident," said Empire Maker trainer Bobby Frankel. "You can talk all you want, but until you do it on the track it doesn't matter."

Frankel has never won a Kentucky Derby in four starts, but will have two shots at the Run for the Roses as his Peace Rules won the Blue Grass Stakes later on Saturday.

Empire Maker, who also won the Florida Derby by nearly 10 lengths last month, has three victories in five career starts for Juddmonte Farms. The first prize of $450,000 increased the three-year-old's earnings to $1.115 million.

On a muddy Aqueduct track, jockey Jerry Bailey didn't have to ask much from Empire Maker, who took the lead just inside the eighth pole and finished one- half length in front of Funny Cide.

Kissin Saint was third, another 7 1/2 lengths behind. New York Hero, the Lane's End Stakes winner, finished fourth after fading at the top of the stretch.

Senor Swinger, Indy Dancer, Sky Soldier and Spite the Devil rounded out the field.

Empire Maker paid $3.10, $2.50 and $2.10, while Funny Cide returned $4.40 and $2.10. Kissin Saint paid $2.10 for show.

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