D’ Funnybone backed off an early pace that cooked Discreetly Mine and Eightyfiveinafifty, then rolled past the two to easily win the $250,000 Woody Stephens Stakes Presented by Emirates Airline (gr. II) (VIDEO) at Belmont Park June 5. Paul Pompa Jr.’s 3-year-old colt won by 3 1/4 lengths over Discreetly Mine, getting the seven furlongs in 1:22.64 with Edgar Prado aboard.
Discreetly Mine , who was making his first start since fading to 13th in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), broke on top for Javier Castellano and was quickly joined by speedball Eightyfiveinafifty. They opened up six lengths of daylight on the rest of the field in a flash, getting the opening quarter in :22.28 and the first half in a sizzling :44.82. Sitting several lengths off the pace was D’ Funnybone, followed by Remand and Thank U Philippe.
It was apparent more than half way on the turn that the demanding early pace was too much for the frontrunners as Prado and D’ Funnybone began to cut into their lead. By the time they reached the quarter pole, D’ Funnybone had caught the pair.
He pulled clear in the stretch from a stubborn Discreetly Mine as Remand rallied from far back for John Velazquez to finish a half-length back in third. It was 7 1/2 lengths further back to Thank U Philippe and Eightyfiveinafifty faded to last.
“I expected to be a little closer, but he broke well and I just bided my time," Prado said of the winning trip. "I liked where I was sitting. It worked out perfectly.”
D’ Funnybone paid $4.40 to win, $3 and $2.20. The 5-3 exacta returned $15.20 and Discreetly Mine paid $3.60 and $2.60. Remand paid $3 to show.
“This is a big win for him; he’s right back,” said winning trainer Rick Dutrow Jr.
D’ Funnybone came into the Woody Stephens off a poor fourth-place effort April 24 in the one-mile Withers Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct. The sprinter now has six wins from nine career starts. He’s a perfect four-for-four at seven furlongs and two-for-two at Belmont Park.
"Edgar has been breezing him (at Aqueduct), and he told me he doesn't like the track so much," Dutrow said. “We know he likes this track and things set up absolutely perfect for him. He did what he was supposed to. When I saw those two going with each other, I couldn't ask for anything better. Even though he was further back than usual, Edgar knew what he was doing, and he knew he had plenty of time to catch up."
Dutrow said the King's Bishop Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga is D' Funnybone's next major goal. “He loves it up there and it's a grade I and we need to get the job done.”
The Woody Stephens winner was bred in Florida by Harold Plumley. Pompa acquired the colt after his first two starts at Calder last year. He quickly became a rising star with a 101/2-length win in the Saratoga Special (gr. II) in his start before the Futurity. This year he won back-to-back graded stakes at seven furlongs at Gulfstream Park: the Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II) and Swale Stakes (gr. II).
D' Funnybone boosted his career earnings to $615,700.
The Woody Stephens, worth $150,000 to the winner, is named for the Hall of Fame trainer who became a legend after winning five consecutive Belmont Stakes in the 1980s. He won with Conquistador Cielo (1982), Caveat (1983), Swale (1984), Crème Fraiche (1985), and Danzig Connection (1986).