06/06/2003 11:00PM

Empire Maker denies Crown


ELMONT, N.Y. - Funny Cide's bid to become Thoroughbred racing's 12th Triple Crown winner was denied as Empire Maker stormed past Funny Cide and held off Ten Most Wanted to win the 135th running of the Belmont Stakes Saturday.

Empire Maker played spoiler in front of a crowd in excess of 100,000 fans who turned out on a rainy afternoon to see if Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide could win racing most rare and illustrious honor. Empire Maker, who finished second to Funny Cide in the Kentucky in his last race, ran the 1 1/2-mile Belmont in a time of 2:28.26 over a sloppy track to win by three-quarters of a length over runner-up Ten Most Wanted. It was another 4 1/4 lengths back to Funny Cide in third.

Empire Maker, who is trained by Bobby Frankel and ridden by Jerry Bailey, paid $5.00 to win, $3.70 to place, and $2.80 to show. The exacta with Ten Most Wanted paid $44.00.

Funny Cide was the first New York bred to win the Kentucky Derby and the first gelding to win it since Clyde Van Dusen in 1929. He was trying to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed last accomplished the feat 25 years ago in 1978.