Empire Maker wins Wood, solidifies status as Derby favorite
NEW YORK -- Empire Maker delivered a clear message Saturday: Bobby Frankel 's colt will be the horse to beat in the Kentucky Derby in three weeks.
Taking the lead from a determined Funny Cide just inside the eighth pole, Empire Maker won the $750,000 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct by a half-length over a muddy track.
Frankel, the Hall of Fame trainer looking for his first Derby win, said the bay colt needed only a sharp effort to move on to Churchill Downs on May 3. Now the 61-year-old trainer will show up in Louisville with the best 3-year-old in the land.
"He ran a great race, but the big one is still coming," Frankel said.
Yankees closer Mariano Rivera threw 50 pitches off a bullpen mound yesterday as he works his way back from a groin strain. Rivera could throw batting practice by Tuesday and pitch in a minor league game a few days after that.
Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing gave a nifty retirement present to Washington assistant John Bach -- a new Rolls-Royce. "I'm terribly happy and utterly surprised," said the 77-year-old coach, who is retiring from coaching after 50 years. "It proves to me that the NBA does a lot of wonderful things for its own people. This is something I'll never forget."
Retired tight end Johnny Mitchell worked out for the Jacksonville Jaguars yesterday in a bid to play in the NFL for the first time since 1996. Mitchell, a first-round draft pick by the New York Jets in 1992, has 158 career receptions for 2,086 yards and 16 touchdowns since leaving Nebraska as a sophomore.
Earlier this month, Murrysville Dek Hockey, LLC celebrated the grand re-opening of its dek and roller hockey facility on Route 22 in Murrysville, next to Hoss's Steakhouse. The facility is under new ownership and management, and has undergone a series of renovations.
In Charleston, S.C., Serena Williams held off a late rally by Lindsay Davenport to stay perfect this season and reach the finals of the Family Circle Cup. Williams won 6-2, 7-5, upping her record to 21-0 this year. She faces Justine Henin-Hardenne for the championship today.