Funny Cide, the 2003 champion and dual classic winner, and grade I winner Evening Attire head a field of nine in Saturday's Brooklyn Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont Park. The two multi-millionaires, the only seven-figures earners in the 117th running of the race, competed against each other four times last year, with Funny Cide finishing ahead of his rival in three of those races.
Funny Cide, whose Triple Crown bid ended with a third-place effort in the 2003 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), will be making his second start of the year and Evening Attire his first. Trained by Barclay Tagg, Funny Cide ran fourth in the May 20 Pimlico Special Handicap (gr. I) over a sloppy track after having been in contention early on.
Both Funny Cide and Evening Attire have proved themselves over the 1 1/8-mile Brooklyn distance. Funny Cide shows up with a lifetime record of one win and five placings in six starts. Evening Attire, trained by Patrick Kelly, boasts an even better record: four wins, five seconds, and one third from 13 starts.
In their head-to-head competition last year, Funny Cide captured the Excelsior Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) at 1 1/8 miles at Aqueduct and the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) at 1 1/4 miles at Belmont, and finished ahead of his rival in the 1 1/8-mile Massachusetts Handicap (gr. II) at Suffolk Downs while second. Evening Attire's victory came in the Saratoga Breeders' Cup (gr. II) by five lengths over Funny Cide.
Funny Cide and Evening Attire don't lack much when it comes to Beyer Speed Figures. Funny Cide sports 100-plus Beyers in his last 11 starts. Evening Attire's immediate record reveals 100-plus Beyers in 10 of his last 12 races.
Bragging rights in the way of Beyers in the Brooklyn field, however, belong to Gygistar. Trained by Mark Hennig, Gygistar sports the highest immediate Beyer in the field, a 115, earned in winning the mile Westchester Handicap (gr. III) May 4 at Belmont. Like Funny Cide, Gygistar has cracked 11 Beyers of 100-plus in his last dozen starts. Gygistar has raced three times at the Brooklyn distance, but the best he could do was finish third.
Several Brooklyn contestants go into the race off promising performances. Limehouse, trained by Todd Pletcher, won the May 6 Alysheba Stakes at 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs, and Cuba, conditioned by Thomas Bush, was beaten a neck while second in the May 23 Eclipse Handicap (Can-III) at 1 1/16 miles at Woodbine.
Chowder's First, a New York-bred like Funny Cide, won the restricted King's Point Handicap May 1 at Aqueduct. Finishing second and third, respectively, were fellow Brooklyn contestants, Spite the Devil and Rogue Agent.
Chowder's First and Rogue Agent have impressed at 1 1/8 miles. Chowder's First has won three of four starts, and Rogue Agent sports a record of 4-4-2 from 16 starts.
The remaining member of the field, Royal Assault, ran an even third in the William Donald Schaefer (gr. III) May 21 at 1 1/8 miles at Pimlico.
Brooklyn Handicap, $250,000 added, Race 9, Post 5:12
Post Horse Weight Jockey
1 Spite the Devil 113 Mike E. Smith
2 Royal Assault 112 Rafael Bejarano
3 Gygistar 117 Javier Castellano
4 Chowder's First 112 Edgar S. Prado
5 Funny Cide 119 Jose A. Santos
6 Rogue Agent 112 Eibar Coa
7 Evening Attire 117 Cornelio H. Velasquez
8 Cuba 113 Norberto Arroyo Jr.
9 Limehouse 115 John R. Velazquez