Funny Cide

Funny Cide

Funny Cide
Funny Cide at Saratoga, September 1, 2006
Sire Distorted Humor
Grandsire Forty Niner
Dam Belle's Good Cide
Damsire Slewacide
Sex Gelding
Foaled 2000
Country USA
Colour Chestnut
Breeder WinStar Farm
Owner Sackatoga Stable
Trainer Barclay Tagg
Record 38:11-6-8
Earnings $3,529,412
Major wins

Bertram F. Bongard Stakes (2002)
Sleepy Hollow Stakes (2002)
Excelsior Breeders' Cup Handicap (2004)
Jockey Club Gold Cup (2004)
Kings Point Handicap (2006)
Dominion Day Stakes (Can., 2006),
Wadsworth Memorial Handicap (2007)

Triple Crown classic race wins:
Kentucky Derby (2003)
Preakness Stakes (2003)
New York Breeders' Award for Champion Two-Year-Old (2002)
U.S. Champion 3-Year-Old Male (2003)
Champion New York Horse of the Year (2003 & 2004)
Presidents' Award for becoming the first New York–bred to win the Kentucky Derby (G1) and the first gelding since 1929.
NTRA "Moment of the Year" (2003)
Big Sport of Turfdom Award (Sackatoga Stable 2003)
New York Thoroughbred Breeders Award as the New York–bred horse of the decade. (2010)
Funny Cide Street in Napa, California
Funny Cide written and performed by Blue Hand Luke.
Funny Cide Stakes at Saratoga Race Course
Last updated on February 16, 2011

Funny Cide (foaled April 20, 2000) is a Thoroughbred race horse who won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes in 2003. He is the first New York-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby and the first gelding to win since Clyde Van Dusen in 1929.


  • Bloodlines 1
  • Barclay Tagg 2
  • Early races 3
  • 2003 Kentucky Derby 4
  • 2003 Preakness Stakes 5
  • 2003 Belmont Stakes 6
  • Troubled years 7
  • Comeback 8
  • Retirement 9
  • Pedigree 10
  • See also 11
  • Further reading 12
  • Footnotes 13
  • External links 14


Bred at WinStar Farm in Versailles, Kentucky, Funny Cide was foaled at the McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbred Farm, owned by Joe and Anne McMahon in Saratoga Springs, New York. By Distorted Humor (a Mr. Prospector-line sire), he is out of the winning (but short-lived) Belle's Good Cide by Slewacide, in turn by Seattle Slew.

Joe and Anne McMahon, owners of the farm where Funny Cide was foaled

Funny Cide was part of one of Distorted Humor's first American crops when his stud fee was $10,000. (Distorted Humor's fee for 2008 was $300,000 for a live foal.)

Funny Cide was originally purchased in August 2001 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga preferred yearling auction in Saratoga Springs for $22,000 by Tony Everard. With the average price of a yearling running about $43,000, Everard saw the colt as a bargain – a horse he could train at his New Episode Training Center in Ocala, Florida, for a fast financial turnaround. As Everard said, "He was a little bit on the immature side but he had a good frame and a big, deep girth. He was also a ridgling (one testicle had not descended), and they usually sell cheaper." "Best," said Everard, "to do this early. The undescended testicle hurts them, and they don't learn as they should."

Barclay Tagg

Barclay Tagg purchased the gelding for $75,000 in a private transaction in March, 2002 for Sackatoga Stable.

Barclay Tagg at Saratoga, September 1, 2006

Once a steeplechase jockey, Tagg (who grew up in Abington, Pennsylvania and won his first race in 1972 at Liberty Bell Park) was a journeyman who had been on the racing scene for over 30 years. The victory by Funny Cide made Tagg the first trainer to win the Derby in his first attempt since Neil Drysdale saddled Fusaichi Pegasus to win the 2000 Derby.

Ray Paulick of The Blood-Horse said of Tagg, "He has some characteristics uncannily like hall-of-famer "Silent" Tom Smith, the trainer of Seabiscuit. He takes care of his horse, doesn't rush into anything or run him when he shouldn't. I like that about Tagg. Like Tom Smith, he's his own man and will put the horse first. I wish we had more trainers out there like him."

Early races

The chestnut gelding, trained by Tagg and ridden by jockey Jose Santos, made his two-year-old racing debut at Belmont Park on September 8, 2002. Running away from the New York field under a hand ride, he easily won the six-furlong race by fifteen-plus lengths. Three weeks later, Funny Cide won his first seven-furlong stakes race, the Bertram F. Bongard Stakes, under another hand ride and by a similar margin. In the Bongard, his Beyer Speed Figure[1] was 103. No two-year-old in the country had run faster.

His third winning effort as a two-year-old was his first mile race, the Sleepy Hollow Stakes (also at Belmont Park). Under a hard hold by Santos, he was for the first time challenged for the lead (by Spite the Devil). Funny Cide won.

By October 2002, Jose Santos believed this horse would be his "Derby horse", although there was more press coverage of Empire Maker and his stablemate Peace Rules (both horses trained by Robert J. Frankel).

At three, Funny Cide ran in the 1 1/16-mile Grade III Holy Bull Stakes. Breaking from post position 13, he hit the gate and raced wide for the entire trip. He finished fifth in a strong field, which included Offlee Wild. In the Grade II Louisiana Derby, he faced Peace Rules, Kafwain, and Badge of Silver. Staying close to the pace, he rallied in the stretch, dropped back, and then came on again along the rail. Finishing third after Peace Rules, he was moved up to second place after the disqualification of Kafwain. It was his strong second against Empire Maker (ridden by Jerry Bailey) in the 1 1/8-mile Grade I Wood Memorial on April 12, however, that secured his place in the Kentucky Derby. Funny Cide lost the Wood by a short neck and was pressing Empire Maker at the wire, even after New York Hero bore out very wide early, taking the gelding with him and losing him his early momentum. Funny Cide earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 110 for the Wood.

2003 Kentucky Derby

As Funny Cide came into the Derby after a second in the Wood,[2] Funny Cide won the 2003 Kentucky Derby between the strong double entry of Frankel's Empire Maker (again with Jerry Bailey in the saddle) and Peace Rules, ridden by Edgar Prado. He won by 1¾ lengths over the favorite Empire Maker, paying $27.60 for every two-dollar bet to win, before a crowd of 148,530.

Funny Cide's time, 2:01.19, is the tenth fastest time in Kentucky Derby history.

2003 Preakness Stakes

Blood-Horse magazine's Steven Haskin wrote: "Pimlico stakes coordinator David Rollinson had to go out and recruit Preakness Stakes horses when it looked like only six or seven were going to run. All was calm that first week after the Derby. Then, Empire Maker was officially declared out, leaving only six confirmed starters. Then Midway Road came in. Then all hell broke loose when the Miami Herald's bogus story and photo of Santos cheating in the Derby appeared. Empire Maker suddenly jumped back in, his Triple Crown hopes alive once again. Hours later, when the inferno began to subside, he was back out. Then Peace Rules officially came in. Sometime, in between all that, Champali scratched after colicking. Then Kissin Saint and Alysweep came in. Then Indian Express came out. Then Rollinson popped a couple of Advil and braced for week two." Week two was like week one, now including the in and outs and ins of New York Hero, Ten Cents A Shine, Foufa's Warrior, and During. Haskin said, "All this confusion could have been avoided if all involved had known how Funny Cide was going to run in the Preakness."

Shipped in at the last moment by Tagg and stabled in Mary Eppler's barn to keep him calm and out from under the press, this time Funny Cide was the betting favorite. On a cold, wet day in May, he broke from post position nine (only Layminister in 1910 and Canonero II in 1971 won from the ninth post) and was the runaway winner of the 2003 Preakness Stakes at Baltimore's Pimlico Race Course. His time was 1:55:61 and he took the race by 9¾ lengths, the second-largest margin in Preakness history.

In the Preakness – with Pimlico's sharp turns and on a fast track – Funny Cide earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 114. He was only the third New York-bred to win the Preakness. The other two were Jacobus in 1883 and Margrave in 1896 (when the Preakness was run at Gravesend Race Track in Coney Island (Brooklyn), New York.

2003 Belmont Stakes

It rained all day before the Belmont Stakes, the most grueling of the three races and a quarter mile longer than the Kentucky Derby. New Yorkers came to the track in record numbers, only to see Jose Santos ride Funny Cide close to the rail where the mud was deepest (known as a "dead rail") and fight to rate him. He finished third in the mud behind a fresh Empire Maker and Ten Most Wanted; both horses had skipped the Preakness Stakes. Frankel declared himself a happy man in the role of spoiler. "It may be mean," he said, "but I'm glad I did it."

Later that year, Barclay Tagg trained Island Fashion won the Alabama Stakes. Her victory denied a $2 million Triple Tiara bonus to the owners of Spoken Fur (trained by Frankel).

Immediately after the Belmont, Tagg claimed that Funny Cide had not liked the track; however, Belmont was Funny Cide's home track and he trained over it nearly every day regardless of weather.

In an article published in March 2007, one read: "Looking back, Tagg wonders if Funny Cide's 9¾-length victory in the Preakness and his overly fast workout the week before the Belmont weren't the results of an on-edge horse who had little left for the final leg of the Triple Crown. Tagg was quoted as saying, 'He didn't need to have his adrenaline popping through his head every time a bunch of people came running down the aisle way.'"

Funny Cide won the Eclipse Award for 3 Year Old Male of the Year, the first New York-bred to do so (Saratoga Dew was named American Champion Three-Year-Old Filly of 1992).

Troubled years

At four, Funny Cide started in the Massachusetts Handicap on July 3, 2004, earning a 110 Beyer Speed Figure. The finish was a three-way photo at the wire between runner-up Funny Cide, the winner Offlee Wild, and The Lady's Groom. Funny Cide defeated Evening Attire after a stretch duel in the 2004 Excelsior Breeders' Cup Handicap, and was then beaten by him in the Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap. The highlight of his troubled four-year-old season was winning the 1¼-mile, US $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park in October against Evening Attire and The Cliff's Edge. In the Gold Cup, he earned a 112 Beyer. Except for Real Quiet in 1999, for many years no other horse who had won a three-year-old classic had gone on to take another Grade 1 race as an older horse—except Funny Cide.

During Funny Cide's four-year-old season, he was beset with respiratory problems. The race was held at the Santa Anita track when a major forest fire raged nearby, darkening the air with hot soot. During his five-year-old season he had back problems, undiagnosed until he had raced out of the money in several graded races. Tagg decided to rest Funny Cide for the last half of the season.


On February 2, 2006, Funny Cide finished ahead of odds-on favorite Sun King – winner of the Pennsylvania and Tampa Bay Derbies, third in the 2005 Jockey Club Gold Cup, and later second by a nose Invasor in the 2006 Whitney Stakes – in a one-mile allowance race at Gulfstream Park. The stakes-winning sprinter Sir Greeley took the race in a quick 1:32.42 but Funny Cide's jockey, the top 10 New York Racing Association rider Edgar Prado, said, "He broke sharp and was right with those horses from the go. He never gave up. I was very happy with his race."

On April 1, he again placed in his second Excelsior Breeders' Cup Handicap at Aqueduct. "He ran a fantastic race", jockey Richard Migliore said. "Blood and guts all the way to the wire. He's a fantastic racehorse. I wasn't looking for the lead, but my horse was keen and I didn't want to get into a fight with him. When he got alone, he idled better and when company joined him, he fought on again. It was a very game performance."

On April 30, Funny Cide broke his losing streak by taking the Kings Point Handicap at Aqueduct. Jockey Richard Migliore said, "I'm more tired from trying to pull him up. I thought I was going to have to go around again." Jon Constance of Sackets Six said, "We thought that he didn't have the heart he used to have. But it's not so. He looked around and saw that horse coming up at him — and he was gone." (He had consistently reached the high 90s in the Beyer speed figures and at one time had 11 straight races with at least a 100 Beyer figure.)

Funny Cide with his hotwalker, Raunie Hart (who was there from the start)

On July 1, Funny Cide led all the way to win the Grade III $200,800, 1 1/4-mile Dominion Day Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Canada. The race attracted many who had come just to see Funny Cide; they crowded the walking ring when he entered the paddock and gave him an ovation during the post parade. His 1½-length win over a strong field brought the crowd to its feet. Funny Cide broke from the inside post and held off two challenges (from Cryptograph, who finished third and Nolan's Cat, who finished second) in early fractions of :23.62 for the quarter-mile and :47.14 for the half. Funny Cide was the fifth Derby winner to race at Woodbine, and the first to win there since Secretariat took the Canadian International Stakes in 1973. He was also the first Kentucky Derby winner to win a graded stakes race at the age of six. He was also one of only two Kentucky Derby winners in 46 years to race at the age of six. (The other was Gato Del Sol, the 1982 winner.) Funny Cide ran on May 20, 2006, at Pimlico racecourse in Baltimore. Funny Cide, foaled in Saratoga Springs, ran twice at the "Spa" – first in the Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap (before 70,175 fans), and in the Woodward Stakes on September 2, 2006.

On July 4, 2007, lured to Finger Lakes Race Track by an extra $50,000 added to the purse, Funny Cide took the $100,000 Wadsworth Memorial Handicap by three lengths under Alan Garcia, breaking his six-race winless streak. The track (which could accommodate 2,000 patrons in the clubhouse and another 4,000 in the grandstand) had an attendance of well over 12,000 people (its second-largest crowd since 1962) Funny Cide was only the second winner of a Triple Crown race to run at Finger Lakes in its 46-year history.


On July 13, 2007, Funny Cide's retirement was announced. The partnership of Sackatoga Stable, Barclay Tagg and assistant trainer Robin Smullen decided that it was best to retire him on a high note with the victory in the Wadsworth and with the gelding still fit and sound. Jack Knowlton, managing partner for Sackatoga Stable, agreed that Funny Cide's future career would be at the track with Tagg. He became a stable pony in the mornings, accompanying younger horses in their training. "He'll still be doing what he's done the past five years, but he just won't be racing in the afternoon," Knowlton said.

NYRA (the New York Racing Association) held a "Funny Cide Retirement Party" at Saratoga on August 10, 2007.

Funny Cide is a two-time "New York–bred Horse of the Year". At his retirement, in 38 starts he won 11 races, finished second six times and third eight times; his earnings were $3,529,412.[3] Funny Cide had the highest earnings of any New York-bred racehorse in history. Saratoga Race Course honored him with a stakes race for older New York-breds, the Funny Cide Stakes.

On December 5, 2008, Funny Cide took up residence at the Kentucky Horse Park alongside Cigar, Da Hoss, the late Alysheba and other champions. His work as Barclay Tagg's stable pony had begun to give him some discomfort.[4] Shortly after Cigar's death in October 2014, Funny Cide was given his stall and paddock.

In April 2010, the New York Thoroughbred Breeders voted Funny Cide the New York-bred horse of the decade.

In August, 2012, a statue of Funny Cide was unveiled in Saratoga Springs. On his saddle blanket is the number 6, his post position at Churchill Downs on the day he won the Kentucky Derby.[5] Also in August 2012 Funny Cide visited Saratoga's racetrack along with the retired jockey Richard Migliore and the trainer Nick Zito in a seminar for prospective racehorse owners. While there he was a guest of Old Friends farm at Cabin Creek in Greenfield Center.[6]


Pedigree of Funny Cide
Distorted Humor chestnut 1993
Forty Niner

chestnut 1985

Mr. Prospector
bay 1970
Raise A Native
Gold Digger
chestnut 1976
Tom Rolfe
Danzig's Beauty

bay 1987

dark brown 1977
Northern Dancer
Pas De Nom
Sweetest Chant
bay 1978
Mr. Leader
Gay Sonnet
Belle's Good Cide chestnut 1993

bay 1980

Seattle Slew
brown 1974
Bold Reasoning
My Charmer
chestnut 1970
Summer Scandal
Belle of Killarney

chestnut 1981

Little Current
chestnut 1971
Cherished Moment
dark brown 1971
Pumpkin Patch

See also

Further reading

  • Jenkins, Sally, Funny Cide: How a Horse, a Trainer, a Jockey, and a Bunch of High School Buddies Took on the Sheiks and Bluebloods... and Won. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2004. ISBN 0-399-15179-6


  1. ^ Beyer Index Figures are used for calculating the performance of a thoroughbred. It takes into account variables like track conditions as well as speed. It is widely accepted as an accurate indication of a horse's ability.
  2. ^ in his Starter Analysis, Steve Fugitte wrote: "FUNNY CIDE has the heart of a champion as evidenced by three stellar losing efforts in prep races. In Gulfstream's Holy Bull he drew a dreadful 13 post position and was unable to drop over at any point after hitting the gate leaving it. He still ran fifth that day and it was pure desire. Got a much cleaner trip in the Louisiana Derby but hooked a track that hated his running style. Still managed third that day and he came again gamely to secure it after looking hopelessly beaten turning for home. Hooked Empire Maker in the Wood Memorial and was beaten a scant half-length by the Derby favorite while again battling from the rail. This horse is all heart and is due to get a winning trip. Doesn't have the pedigree to stay this distance but neither did Fusaichi Pegasus or Thunder Gulch and his turf-oriented trainer Barclay Tagg knows just how to put the stamina in a horse. Posted a 110 Beyer Speed Figure in the Wood last out and will be very dangerous if able to repeat that number and work out some kind of stalking trip. Definitely in my top four and a good bet across as an alternative to the favorite."
  3. ^ [1] Funny Cide's five-generation pedigree, record and earnings. Accessed February 16, 2011.
  4. ^
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^

External links

  • Funny Cide's official website
  • Funny Cide's pedigree
  • Funny Cide, Three-year-old Male of the Year
  • Funny Cide's distaff line
  • Distorted Humor - stallion register
  • Barclay Tagg's website
  • NTRA bio of Barclay Tagg
  • NTRA bio of Jose Santos
  • Funny Cide Kentucky Derby page
  • Funny Cide celebrates Canada Day
  • Funny Cide heads the New York bred Millionaire's Club
  • BloodHorse July 13, 2007 Kentucky Derby, Preakness Winner Funny Cide Retired at Age 7
  • Sports Illustrated July 14, 2007 'An unbelievable trip' 2003 Derby, Preakness Winner Funny Cide Retired