During nearly 30 years on the Mid-Atlantic circuit, the closest trainer Barclay Tagg ever got to the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) was a bird's eye view from the Pimlico backstretch. But this year, things figure to be vastly different for the newly-minted Kentucky Derby-winning conditioner.
"After I started training in Maryland, I probably saw every (Preakness)," Tagg said during a National Thoroughbred Racing Association teleconference Thursday. "When I had real bad horses, I used to climb up on the roof of the barn at the five-eighths pole. The guards would yell at you, but it was a great place to watch the Preakness."
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, t is unlikely Tagg will draw the ire of track security this year. The former Maryland stalwart will be back in town next Saturday with the star attraction--reigning Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Funny Cide.
The gelded son of Distorted Humor jogged around the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Park oval for the second straight day Thursday. Plans for Funny Cide are to school in the Belmont paddock between races Saturday and turn in his only breeze prior to the Preakness on Tuesday. Shipping plans for the Preakness have not been decided for Funny Cide.
Tagg said a decision on when to ship and where Funny Cide will be stabled at Pimlico will be decided after Tuesday's work. The 66-year-old trainer said he has not ruled out waiting until the day of the race to ship Funny Cide to Pimlico.
"I like to ship as close to the race as I can," Tagg said. "You can ship into Pimlico the day of the race, but I don't know yet if I will do that."
While Funny Cide remains in good spirits, "biting everyone and having a grand time," Tagg said he is still trying to adjust to the media spotlight.
"The horse is holding up very well," Tagg said. "I get a little agitated. I can't get my work done, but I guess it's a nice thing to have."
Tagg said he likely will not attend the post position draw the Wednesday before the race -- co-owner Jackson Knowlton would be the representative -- but said he is hoping for an inside post in the Preakness for Funny Cide.
"I would rather have the inside then the outside with this horse at Pimlico," said Tagg, who believes the track generally favors speed horses.