Cheveley Park Farm's English homebred Funfair, unbeaten in three starts in the United States, enjoyed a perfect run along the inside to upset Artie Schiller by a head in the $350,000 Kelso Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) on Belmont Park's Widener turf course Sunday.
With Edgar Prado aboard, the 13-1 shot Funfair completed the one-mile event in an excellent time of 1:32 4/5 on firm going. Determined pacesetter Keep the Faith stubbornly yielded the lead in deep stretch, finishing three-quarters of a length behind in third.
Artie Schiller, who pressured the pacemaker from the gate in the one-turn race, was an unlucky loser under Richard Migliore. He edged past the Australian-bred Keep the Faith after a grueling stretch duel and surged again when Funfair got the lead on the rail to just miss. Funfair carried 115 pounds to victory, eight pounds less than multiple grade II winner Artie Schiller.
"I had to work real hard to get by (Keep the Faith)," Migliore said. "Maybe if I leave him alone, I don't get by him. I was all in to get by him, and when I finally fought my way past him, the winner got through on the rail and got a better run."
The 6-year-old Funfair has won three races at three different U.S. tracks since returning to action for trainer Graham Motion after an absence of nearly nine months. Funfair was group stakes placed in England, finishing third in a group III race at Newmarket a year ago just before he went to the sidelines. He returned with a two-length win in an optional claiming/allowance heat on the Delaware Park lawn July 26 and captured the restricted Troy Stakes at Saratoga on yielding ground a month later. Prado is the third different jockey the Singspiel
gelding has had in this country.
Motion said Funfair will pursue the $1.5 million NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) at Belmont on Oct. 29.
"I have to go on to the Breeders' Cup with him," he said. "I thought he would like this course."
Keep the Faith, with Javier Castellano aboard, took over the lead from Artie Schiller shortly after the break and took the field through fractions of :22 4/5, :45 and 1:08 2/5. Prado guided Funfair over and reserved him off the early pace until ranging into contention at the quarter pole. As room opened up along the inside of Keep the Faith in the final furlong, Funfair was there to exploit it.
"I felt very good when he got down on the rail," Motion said. "He really likes to be down inside. He's a very game horse. It was a pretty good field he beat today."
Prado agreed, saying, "I had a beautiful trip. He broke good. We sat behind the speed and saved some ground. The rail opened up. He picked it up the last eighth of a mile. It was a good effort. Those horses in front weren't slowing down."
Funfair's sixth win in 16 career starts nearly doubled his earnings to more than $430,000.
He paid $29.20, $8.10, and $6, capping a $73.50 exacta with the 7-5 choice Artie Schiller ($2.90, $2.40). Keep the Faith returned $4.20.
Not Phone, Limehouse, Latino Magic, Ecclesiastic, Silver Tree, Willard Straight, and Aye Caramba completed the order of finish.