Though Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide is still being prepared for the $1 million Travers on Aug. 23, he has been nominated to the Pennsylvania Derby, Sackatoga Stable managing partner Jack Knowlton said.
Knowlton said that Philadelphia Park officials called trainer Barclay Tagg Monday to ask whether he might run the gelding in the race if the purse is increased from $500,000 to $750,000. On Sunday, trainer Bobby Frankel said that with the extra money in the purse he would nominate Haskell Invitational (gr. I) winner Peace Rules to the race.
Knowlton said he and Tagg discussed the situation after the call. "As an insurance policy we nominated to the race for $500," Knowlton said. "We nominated to the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs, too. You never know. A horse could be perfect and the morning of a race something happens and you miss a race. It's pretty inexpensive insurance to have a chance to run in a big purse 3-year-old race."
Knowlton said he doesn't know much about the Pennsylvania Derby, other than it is run on Labor Day.
"It was never anything we had ever talked about or considered until we heard about it (Monday)," he said. "They called Barclay and so we talked about whether it was worthwhile to spend $500 to nominate the horse. We agreed that it was, given the uncertainties of race horses."
Still, the Travers remains the goal for Funny Cide. "If the horse is right on Aug. 23, he will run here," Knowlton said. "Barclay will make the decision."
As he did on Monday, Funny Cide galloped 1 1/4 miles on the muddy Clare Court track Tuesday morning with assistant trainer Robin Smullen up.
"He's a big, good-feeling horse. He drags Robin around there for a mile and a half every day," Tagg said Tuesday morning. "He seemed like he was fine and he came back good. He's doing good."
Tagg said he was unsure when Funny Cide would work next. He typically works 10 days from his last start, which would be today. But with the horse scheduled to be brought to the paddock he won't be breezed.
"I don't know. I might not work him at all," Tagg said. "Ask Bobby Frankel how I should do it."
Tagg did send out Island Fashion Tuesday morning for her final work prior to Saturday's Grade I Alabama. He said he timed the filly in 1:00 3/5 on the main track.
"She worked fine and she came back good," he said. "She seems to be doing nicely."