Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide turned in a sharp 6-furlong work in 1:12 4/5 at Belmont Park Monday, in preparation for the $1 million Haskell Invitational on Aug. 3.
"I'm looking forward to getting him back to the races," said Robin Smullen, assistant to trainer Barclay Tagg. "The Haskell isn't an easy race, but even if he gets beat, it should set him up for the Travers."
The son of Distorted Humor shipped to Saratoga Tuesday morning, and will van to Monmouth the morning of the race. A victory by the New York-bred gelding will put him over the $2 million mark in career earnings.
There are three other definite starters for the grade I, 1 1/8-mile race – Peace Rules, winner of the Blue Grass Stakes and Louisiana Derby; Excessivepleasure, wire-to-wire winner of the Iowa Derby in his last start, and also winner of last year's WinStar Derby; and Kool Humor, winner of the Alysheba Breeders' Cup at Lone Star Park in his last start.
Possible starters are Sky Mesa, third in the Dwyer Stakes in his 2003 debut; the undefeated Wild and Wicked, winner of the Ohio Derby; and Belmont allowance winners Congrats, trained by Shug McGaughey, and Colita, trained by Todd Pletcher. Pletcher's big 3-year-old, Dwyer winner, Strong Hope, likely will run next in the Jim Dandy Stakes on the same day.
Sky Mesa's trainer, John Ward, like Wild and Wicked's trainer, Ken McPeek, still hasn't made up his mind whether to run in the Haskell or the Jim Dandy.
"He'll breeze in the next day or two," Ward said. "He doesn't know we haven't made up our mind. We want to see what develops over the next several days. A lot of people are going to change their minds. I'm probably leaning a bit more toward the Haskell. If we're going to run, we might as well run for $1 million."