Multiple grade II winner D' Funnybone gets back to his favored distance of seven furlongs when he takes on four other 3-year-olds in the $250,000 Woody Stephens Stakes (gr. II) presented by Emirates Airline, part of the Belmont Stakes undercard June 5 at Belmont Park.
The Florida-bred son of D'wildcat is perfect in three starts at the distance, all in grade II stakes victories, including the Hutcheson and Swale during the spring at Gulfstream Park. He'll face a short field that includes graded winners Eightyfiveinafifty and Discreetly Mine in the Woody Stephens, which is race 6 on the stakes-powered program. The probable post is 2:34 p.m. EDT.
Trained by Rick Dutrow Jr. for Paul Pompa, D' Funnybone tried the one-mile distance in the Withers Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct last time out and stopped abruptly in the stretch after being forced to steady sharply April 24. He wound up fourth behind the victorious Afleet Again, beaten by more than 10 lengths.
D' Funnybone, breaking from post 5 with regular pilot Edgar Prado aboard, brings a 5-1-0 mark over eight starts into the race, including runaway victories in the Saratoga Special (gr. II) and Belmont's Futurity (gr. II) as a 2-year-old. He has banked a field-best $465,700 in his career.
“He’s coming into this race good, and I don’t know how to explain his last race,” Dutrow said. “I didn’t change anything with his training (for the Woody Stephens). He’s been training good. Our horse doesn’t want to go to the lead, so he loves to have a target; and he likes Belmont.”
Discreetly Mine cuts back in distance for trainer Todd Pletcher following a 13th-place effort at 31-1 odds in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) over a sloppy Churchill Downs main track May 1. Winner of the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) at Fair Grounds in February, he was a close fourth in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) prior to the Run for the Roses.
Most of Discreetly Mine's best races have been at a distance of one mile or greater. Still, he broke his maiden as a 2-year-old going 6 1/2 furlongs at Saratoga by more than six lengths last August and ran second to D' Funnybone in the Futurity in his next start while beaten by 4 3/4 lengths.
Owned by Paul Robsham Stables, the son of Mineshaft has two wins and three seconds from nine starts and earnings of $389,350. He breaks from post 3 and is teamed with Javier Castellano once more.
Eightyfiveinafifty looks to bounce back from a disappointing fourth-place showing as the favorite in the one-mile Derby Trial (gr. III) April 24, when he was beaten 13 3/4 lengths in the mud at Churchill. Trained by Gary Contessa for owner Harold Lerner and partners, the Forest Camp colt drew off in the seven-furlong Bay Shore Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct for his first stakes victory in his prior start.
“I honestly didn’t know what his limitations might be, and he ran like a horse that didn’t like that muddy, deep track,” Contessa said of Eightyfiveinafifty’s effort in the Derby Trial.
Jockey Ramon Dominguez, aboard for both of Eightyfiveinafifty's most recent races, has the call once again and they'll break from the rail.
D' Funnybone, Discreetly Mine and Eightyfiveinafifty all carry 123 pounds in the Woody Stephens.
Sovereign Stable's Remand ran third in the Bay Shore for trainer John Terranova II and came back to finish third again in Belmont's nine-furlong Dwyer Stakes (gr. II) May 8 behind Belmont Stakes (gr. I) contender Fly Down. John Velazquez has the mount on the son of Successful Appeal . Remand has lost three straight this year since breaking his maiden at first asking at Keeneland in October.
Thank U Philippe, winner of the Sophomore Stakes over Florida-breds by a neck April 3 for trainer Marty Wolfson, completes the field. Thank U Philippe has finished second to Jackson Bend , Buddy's Saint and Wood Memorial (gr. I) winner Eskendereya , all top-class 3-year-olds.
“He was second to Eskendereya in a real good effort,” said Wolfson, who will ship Thank U Philippe to Belmont from his base in Calder with a battalion of horses for the Belmont card. “I tried to stretch him out, not to see if he was a Triple Crown horse but see if he was a stretch-out horse. Throw out his route races, and his seven-eighth races are huge.”
$250,000 Woody Stephens Stakes (gr. II, Race 6, 2:34 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 7 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Eightyfiveinafifty (KY), R A Dominguez, 123, G C Contessa
2. Remand (KY), J R Velazquez, 117, J P Terranova II
3. Discreetly Mine (KY), J Castellano, 123, T A Pletcher
4. Thank U Philippe (FL), G K Gomez, 119, M D Wolfson
5. D' Funnybone (FL), E S Prado, 123, R E Dutrow, Jr.
Blinkers off: Remand