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Broadway Empire wins Oklahoma Derby

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Without even looking at the pre-race chart for the Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby, trainer Robertino Diodoro figured his horse, Broadway Empire, would set the pace.

``I'm not saying that's what I wanted, but for some reason I had it in my head,'' Diodoro said. ``The horse is sharp and he's trained awesome since he's been here.''

Turns out, Broadway Empire led when it counted most, too. He led from start to finish and pulled away in the stretch before settling for a four-length win over Cameo Appearance in the 1 1/8-mile race Sunday, winning in 1:49.44 on a fast track.

The 1-5 favorite Departing - the winner of the Illinois, West Virginia and Super derbies who also ran in the Preakness Stakes - never fired and finished fourth under jockey Robby Albarado, behind Carve.

Diodoro and jockey Rico Walcott both expected Departing to make a late move, but it never materialized.

Broadway Empire has won four of six career races - all as a 3-year-old - for the Edmonton, Alberta, ownership group of Randy Howg, Bob Butz, Fouad El Kardy and Rick Running Rabbitt. The group earned $240,000 for the win, more than doubling the horse's previous career earnings of $166,745.

The Kentucky-bred son of Empire Maker suffered a quarter-crack in a hoof four days before his last race, the Grade 3 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park, but recovered enough to win the 1 3/8-mile race. Diodoro said he pointed Broadway Empire toward the $440,000 Oklahoma Derby after that.

``I really felt our horse was coming into his own,'' Diodoro said. ``To be honest, this is the first time this horse has been right going into a race.''

Broadway Empire - the second wagering choice at 3-1 odds - was a bit fractious in the gate, Walcott said, and wanted to go quickly.

``When I came out of the gate, he was driving me up to the lead,'' Walcott said. ``I just said, `I've got to get him relaxed, because there's a long way to go.'''

With Carve, He Has Bling and Cameo Appearance tucked in behind him, Broadway Empire led the field around the first turn and down the backside. At the three-quarter mark, Departing moved into third place but got no further and fell back a bit in the stretch.

Meanwhile, Broadway Empire extended his lead and never was seriously threatened.

``He's a little full of himself,'' Walcott said. ``He likes to act up a little bit on the post parade and want to buck and stuff. But I like him. He's a class horse.''

Because of the heavy wagering on Departing, the show payoffs for the three horses that finished in the money were unusual. Broadway Empire paid $8.80 to win, $4.20 to place and $30 to show. Cameo Appearance paid $9 and $43.60, while Carve paid a track-record $76.40.

The previous Remington Park record for a show payoff was $47.20, set on Sept. 13, 2002, by Quit Casper.

Diodoro said Broadway Empire eventually will be shipped to Santa Anita Park in California during the next week or so, but didn't know for sure if he'll race again as a 3-year-old.

``Right now, I'm just going to enjoy the night,'' Diodoro said. ``We'll start talking, I'm sure, over a couple of cocktails tonight, but I don't have no thoughts, no plans, nothing right now. Just one day at a time.

``If everything is good, we'll find one more (race) before Jan. 1.''

The 25th running of the Oklahoma Derby was the first in recent years for the race as a graded-stakes event.

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