Sackatoga Stable's Funny Cide will rejoin the New York-bred ranks Sunday when he makes his 5-year-old debut in the featured $75,000-added Kings Point Handicap at nine furlongs, the final day of the Aqueduct meeting. The Kings Point is a major drop in class for Funny Cide, who in additon to winning the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness (gr. I) in 2003, captured last fall's Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I). The gelding has competed in 11 Grade 1 races since April of 2003. This will be Funny Cide's first race versus New York-breds since the 2002 Sleepy Hollow at Belmont more than 2 1/2 years ago.Funny Cide drew post 4 in the five-horse Kings Point and will be guided by his regular jockey Jose Santos. Although he is prepping for bigger and better things down the road, notably the May 20 Pimlico Special (gr. I), Funny Cide will need to bring his "A" game. He shoulders top weight of 127 pounds, while his four rivals will receive an eight to 11-pound weight concession. "I wanted to get a race into him before the Pimlico Special," trainer Barclay Tagg said. "This one's right here, so that makes it a little easier."After his 4-year-old campaign ended with a 10th-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) at Lone Star Park, Funny Cide shipped to Florida and spent the winter at Gulfstream Park. Tagg says the son of Distorted Humor has bulked up in recent months, potentially bad news for Funny Cide's Kings Point competition."He's gotten real big and strong and has put on more weight," Tagg said. "I've had a lot of success with five-year-olds."Funny Cide returned from Florida the second week of April and has breezed three times at Belmont. His final pre-Kings Point work was a seven-furlong breeze over Belmont's main track on April 25 in 1:26 3/5. Tagg says the gelding might be pretty keen in the early stages of the Kings Point."He's fresh," he said. "He hasn't run since the end of October, but he's pretty fit." Rain is forecast on Saturday, so the prospects of an "off track" definitely exist for Sunday's card.
"I don't care about the slop or anything else, but if the track's bad I'm not going to run him," Tagg said.
Funny Cide's stiffest challenge should come from either Spite the Devil or Yankee Mon. Spite the Devil goes out for Hall of Fame trainer H. Allen Jerkens, who is nicknamed "The Giant Killer" after defeating Secretariat twice in 1973, Buckpasser in 1967 and Kelso three times in 1962-63. Spite the Devil, a 5-year-old gelding by Devil His Due, won Belmont's Evan Shipman and Empire Classic last year. He is receiving eight pounds from Funny Cide.Yankee Mon has never started in a stakes race. A son of 1995 two-year-old champion Maria's Mon, Yankee Mon has won his only two starts for leading trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. by a combined 10 ¼ lengths. In fact, he recently defeated Big Apple Daddy, who came back to finish second in the Times Square last Sunday. Yankee Mon, who sold for $395,000 as a yearling, will be making his first start over seven furlongs and around two turns in the Kings Point. He gets 11 pounds from Funny Cide and should play part of the pace with Rogue Agent and/or Funny Cide. $75,000-added King's Point Handicap, New York breds 3 & up, 1 1/8 miles
PP. HORSE, TRAINER, JOCKEY, WGT.
1. Chowder's First, Phil Serpe, Joe Bravo, 116
2. Yankee Mon, Richard Dutrow Jr., Edgar Prado, 116
3. Rogue Agent, Mike Brice, Aaron Gryder, 118
4. Funny Cide, Barclay Tagg, Jose Santos, 127
5. Spite the Devil, H. Allen Jerkens, Javier Castellano, 119