It was a picture-perfect morning Friday at Belmont Park, with cloudless skies, warm temperatures, and a slight breeze serving as an ideal backdrop as several of the leading contenders for Saturday's Belmont Stakes were on the track.
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas sounded a warning to those running in Saturday's 135th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes hoping to derail the Funny Cide Express to the Visa Triple Crown: "That sucker is ready."
Rodeo Licious burst out of the gate and led every step of the way to take the first stakes race of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) weekend, the Fashion Stakes for juvenile fillies.
If anyone is looking for signs that Empire Maker is ready to thwart Funny Cide's attempt to sweep the Triple Crown, they had to feel good after watching the son of Unbridled gallop Thursday morning.
Since Funny Cide is a gelding, the obvious winner on the breeding side of things is his sire, Distorted Humor. At least one person has already cashed in. WinStar Farm, where Distorted Humor stands, bought a share from Joseph Federico for $450,000.
Funny Cide, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness (both gr. I) winner who will attempt to become Thoroughbred racing's 12th Triple Crown winner in Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I), galloped 1 ½ miles the wrong way around the Belmont Park oval Thursday morning. His demeanor following his exercise has the Funny Cide team brimming with confidence for the "Test of a Champion."
Belmont Stakes stories selected from newspapers and Web sites.
The New York Racing Association will allow fans to bring in coolers to specified areas of the grandstand at Belmont on Belmont Stakes Day, June 7, as Funny Cide races for Thoroughbred racing history and the Visa Triple Crown.
After Wednesday's Belmont post position draw, all the combatants can now start planning their strategies. When Funny Cide drew post 4 and Empire Maker post 1, the wheels immediately started turning as to how the early battle will unfold.
Funny Cide, who will attempt to become Thoroughbred racing's 12th winner of the Triple Crown Saturday in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), will do so from post 4. The Sackatoga Stable star will face five challengers in the 1 ½-mile "Test of a Champion" and was installed the even-money favorite for the race.
Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Funny Cide was made the even-money morning line favorite when six horses were entered Wednesday for Saturday's Belmont Stakes. The 3-year-old gelding will break from post position 4 as Derby runner-up Empire Maker breaks from the inside post.
The New York area is under a flood watch from the National Weather Service as heavy rains have soaked the area since Tuesday night. Local forecasters have used words like "ugly" and "miserable" to describe Wednesday's forecast.
Funny Cide, the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness (gr. I) winner who is seeking to become the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years, impressed in his final workout when he made a surprise appearance on the Belmont Park track at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Funny Cide's bid to win the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) on Saturday is turning New York into a "one-horse town." Sackatoga Stable's hero will not only bring out the equine stars to challenge him and run on the undercard, but will bring out a gaggle of luminaries from Hollywood and New York as well as heavyweights from the political arena.
Funny Cide is likely to face six challengers when he tries to win the Belmont Stakes on Saturday and become the 12th Triple Crown champion.
Although the hordes of media that invaded Belmont Park Tuesday morning were taken aback when they learned that Funny Cide had worked at 5:30 instead of the scheduled 8:45, their 10:30 interview with trainer Barclay Tagg was quite congenial, with Tagg in excellent spirits.
Jockey Jose Santos, who will ride Funny Cide in his bid for the Triple Crown Saturday afternoon in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), has a lot of people in his corner. Count among them Hall of Fame trainer P.G. Johnson, who compared him to the legendary Braulio Baeza.
The more one looks at the repercussions of a Funny Cide victory in Saturday's Belmont Stakes, the more it looks almost a sure thing that Empire Maker will hook up fairly early with the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner.
Illinois Derby winner Ten Most Wanted worked five furlongs in a solid :59 3/5 at Hollywood Park Monday morning as he continues preparations for Saturday's $1-million Belmont Stakes.
John Phillips and partners' Sir Barton Stakes winner Best Minister zipped a half-mile in a quick :47 at Belmont Park on Monday as the Deputy Minister colt continued to progress toward Saturday's Belmont Stakes.
On Friday, trainer Barclay Tagg, who has been very protective of Funny Cide, told it like it is. Starting next Friday afternoon, Funny Cide and Barn 6 are off limits to all non-employees. Tagg explained his course of action and the difficult task of getting the horse to the Belmont.
Belmont Park was visited by a long, lost friend Friday morning...the sun. But it's not supposed to stay very long.
Sackatoga Stable's Funny Cide turned in another sharp drill Wednesday morning, working 5 furlongs in :59 2/5 over a muddy track in preparation for the Belmont Stakes, in which he will attempt to become racing's 12th Triple Crown winner.
By Ray Paulick -- Whether he wins or loses in New York, Funny Cide has helped give racing new exposure.
By Bud Lamoreaux -- Funny Cide can give racing an ingredient that has been lacking for 25 years.
With the buzz growing ever louder over another potential Triple Crown winner, the racing industry is marshalling its marketing forces to make sure the public at large becomes aware of what's at stake at Belmont Park June 7.
With the Belmont track soaked from several days of rain, trainer Christophe Clement has decided to postpone Dynever's work from Friday to either Sunday or Monday. Also scheduled to work Monday is Kentucky Derby runner-up Empire Maker.
It has been 25 years since Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978 and 30 years since Secretariat broke a 25-year Triple Crown drought in 1973. The connections of Secretariat, Affirmed, and Seattle Slew speak out.
The riders of the last three Triple Crown winners offered some advice for Jose Santos, the regular rider of Funny Cide as he bids for the Triple Crown on June 7. The riders, Ron Turcotte, Jean Cruget, and Steve Cauthen commented during a round-table teleconference sponsored by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.
Phillips Racing Partnership's Best Minister, impressive winner of the Sir Barton Stakes, will be supplemented to the Belmont Stakes for a $100,000 fee, as trainer Kenny McPeek attempts to catch lightning in a bottle for the second year in a row.
Jose Santos, who rode Funny Cide to victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, can cap a dream month Monday when he flies west from New York to ride Dress To Thrill in the $350,000-added Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IT) for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on the Hollywood Park turf.
Move over Derek Jeter, there's another New York-based athlete stealing the hearts of sports fans in the Big Apple. Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Funny Cide, along with his connections, owner Sackatoga Stable, trainer Barclay Tagg, and jockey Jose Santos, were honored during a luncheon Tuesday at Gallagher's Steak House.
Empire Maker breezed six furlongs on Belmont Park's fast main track after the mid-morning break Tuesday in a bullet 1:12 under jockey Aaron Gryder.
When New York-bred Funny Cide goes for a Triple Crown sweep in the Belmont Stakes, the sport of kings will be the king of sports in the Big Apple and throughout the Empire State.
By Gary West -- When Jose Santos and Funny Cide left behind their rivals at Pimlico, and left even further behind the suggestions of impropriety, the jockey stood in the irons and kissed his right hand. He flashed the victory sign, and then he opened his hand to the world, as if to show again that it held nothing.
Funny Cide broadsides his Preakness rivals in Baltimore by 9 3/4 lengths and the New York-bred heads to New York with a shot at the Triple Crown.
Coverage of the May 17 Preakness Stakes on NBC from 5-6:45 p.m. (EDT) earned a 5.6 overnight rating and a 15 share, compared with a 6.5 overnight rating and 15 share in 2002.
With all reserved seats sold out for Belmont Stakes Day, two seats in the clubhouse, originally worth $80, are currently for sale on eBay for $530 and climbing. There are still four days left before the bidding closes. That will just be the tip of the iceberg as New York's "Funny Frenzy" builds to a feverish pitch.
If Funny Cide sweeps the Triple Crown he will have earned it. Not only is a large field expected for the Belmont Stakes, but several of them will be talented newcomers to the Triple Crown scene, as well as some fresh horses who ran big in the Kentucky Derby.
A lifetime of horses and hard work, not sitting in front of the television, preceded trainer Barclay Tagg's 2:01.19 of fame on May 3.
You know that dream where you hit the home run that wins the World Series? Or the one where you earn an Olympic gold medal or hit the lottery? Jackson Knowlton and nine of his friends lived that dream May 3. One of the three horses they own won the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
Jose Santos is one of the masters of big-time race riding. In 1999, he denied Charismatic the Triple Crown when he booted Lemon Drop Kid home in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Last October, he guided Volponi to a 43-1 upset victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) and on the first Saturday in May, the Chilean-born jockey won his first Kentucky Derby (gr. I) in seven attempts.
They have come in all sizes and colors, with vastly different personalities, and every conceivable advantage. Yet the thing each has been remembered for, finally, was failing to get the job done.
Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide has three weeks to prepare for the biggest race of his career and trainer Barclay Tagg and assistant Robin Smullen have tentatively mapped out a plan for the June 7 Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
Sackatoga Stable's Funny Cide will seek to become racing's 12th Triple Crown winner when he goes to post on Saturday, June 7th in the 135th running of the grade I, $1 million Belmont Stakes - the 1 1/2-mile final leg of the Visa Triple Crown for 3-year-olds.
Former President Bill Clinton, among those packed into Pimlico's Turf Club on Preakness Day, predicted New York-bred Funny Cide, winner of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), would also win the Visa Triple Crown's second jewel.
Although WinStar Farm would love to have a Kentucky Derby winner under its colors, the victory in Derby 129 by the WinStar-bred Funny Cide was certainly the next best thing. It could get even better if he adds a Preakness (gr. I) win tomorrow.
Peace Rules is the favorite in the early wagering for Saturday's Preakness Stakes. The Derby third-place finisher is 5-2, while the Derby winner, Funny Cide, is 9-2.
Declaring the controversy over the "phantom photo" was completely behind him, jockey Jose Santos said he was confident going into the Preakness Stakes aboard Kentucky Derby victor Funny Cide.
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