If there was any doubt about D' Funnybone being the top 3-year-old sprinter in the nation, those questions were answered emphatically on March 20.
Racing for Paul Pompa Jr., D’ Funnybone outfought a couple horses for the lead going into the turn, opened up a commanding lead in the stretch, and held on for a 1 1/4-length win in the $150,000 Swale Stakes (gr. II) (VIDEO) at Gulfstream Park. The son of D'wildcat stayed undefeated in two starts this season and notched the fourth grade II victory of his young career. He is trained by Rick Dutrow Jr.
With regular rider Edgar Prado aboard, D’ Funnybone broke sharply from post 7 and raced to the front in a field of nine. But there was plenty of early speed in the seven-furlong race, as Hear Ye Hear Ye and California shipper Privilaged also came up to challenge. Hear Ye Hear Ye had a slight lead through an opening quarter of :22.24, but as they made their way into the turn D’ Funnybone emerged from between horses with the lead and was still going easy through a testing half-mile in :44.50.
D’ Funnybone hit the top of the stretch in control and easily put away his closest rival, Privilaged, as he continued through the final furlong. Ibboyee, a stakes winner in New York, closed willingly under John Velazquez but ran out of room. The final time on the fast main track was 1:21.98.
Ibboye settled for second, 2 1/4 lengths in front of Privilaged and Tyler Baze.
“He ran like I thought he would,” said Dutrow. “It looked like he was pretty much in control all the way. My first choice for him next would be the Withers (gr. III, Apr. 24 at Aqueduct), a one-turn mile, then see where we are.”
“It was easy,” added Prado. “He had a little pressure early but he was just galloping along. The track has been fast all day, so we just wanted to take advantage of that. There was really never any concern out there; maybe a little when a couple of the horses hooked up with him early, but he was always going along at a cruising speed, and at that point I hadn’t asked him to go yet. To me, the way he is running now is great, and we’ll leave it up to (trainer) Rick (Dutrow) whether we try and take on more distance.”
D’ Funnybone was sent off as the overwhelming 1-2 favorite based on his win in the Feb. 20 Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II) over the same track. As a 2-year-old, he romped to victories in the Saratoga Special (gr. II) and Futurity (gr. II) in New York. Pompa purchased the chestnut colt privately from his breeder, Harold Plumley, after he ran second in the Frank Gomez Memorial Stakes at Calder last summer.
Improving to 5-1-0 from six starts, D’ Funnybone has now earned $458,200. He is out of the Woodman mare Elbow.
Pompa said earlier in the week that D' Funnybone would be pointed toward the April 24 Withers (gr. III) at Aqueduct next with an eye on the Preakness Stakes (gr. II).
The winner paid $3, $2.20, and $2.10. The exacta (7-3) returned $9.20 and the trifecta (7-3-9) was $71.70 for $1.