Bill Casner, co-owner of WinStar Farm, and WinStar president Doug Cauthen were on the backside of Belmont Park Friday morning to watch Funny Cide go through his final bit of exercise for Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I). WinStar Farm, near Versailles, Ky., bred Triple Crown hopeful Funny Cide.
The chestnut son of WinStar Farm stallion Distorted Humor out of the Slewacide mare Belle's Good Cide was foaled in New York state at Mahon Thoroughbreds of Saratoga. The gelding swept the first two legs of the Triple Crown by winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes (both gr. I) in May.
Kenny Troutt, the other co-owner of WinStar was in Chicago to watch another of Distorted Humor's offspring, the 3-year-old filly Awesome Humor, run in an allowance race at Arlington Park. Awesome Humor is also a grade I winner, having won the Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga last summer. Troutt will fly to New York and be on hand at Belmont on race day as Funny Cide seeks to become Thoroughbred racing's 12th Triple Crown winner.
Doug Cauthen is the brother of Steve Cauthen, who rode Affirmed to win the Triple Crown in 1978. Doug said he would hook up with his brother on Saturday and he noted it was the first time since 1978 that both brothers were at all three Triple Crown races.
Casner and Cauthen arrived on the backside of Belmont Park at 5 a.m., a half-hour before the track opened. After watching Funny Cide, they worked the backstretch, stopping by Bobby Frankel's barn to get a look at Empire Maker. Empire Maker, the 6-5 second choice on the morning line for the Belmont, is a son of Unbridled, out of Kentucky Broodmare of the Year Toussaud.
"We always like to take a look at a good horse," Casner said. "He has so much balance, and his angles are good."
"He's long," Cauthen said of Empire Maker. "He looks like his dad. He's as good a looking Unbridled as you'll see."