Paul Pompa Jr.’s D' Funnybone opened up his 3-year-old season in style, cruising to a professional one-length win as the even-money favorite in the $150,000 Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II) (VIDEO) Feb. 20 at Gulfstream Park.
A two-time grade II winner in New York as a 2-year-old, D’ Funnybone disappointed in his season finale last year when finishing last in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) on Nov. 7. But that race was over Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride surface, giving the D'wildcat colt an excuse and his connections hoped that he would return to form on dirt.
Breaking from post 7 under Edgar Prado, D’ Funnybone rated well in the early going, racing in third while Wildcat Frankie set the pace and Hear Ye Hear Ye tracked in second. The opening splits were :22.37 and :45.10.
D’ Funnybone ranged up to challenge his rivals from the three path as they made the turn, and easily struck the front at the top of the lane. He had a one length lead at the eighth-pole and was only mildly urged by Prado in holding off A Little Warm in a final time of 1:22.14 for seven furlongs over a fast track.
A Little Warm, winner of the Spectacular Bid Stakes last month and sent off as the second choice under Jeremy Rose, finished another length ahead of Ibboyee for runner-up.
“He was training very steady for this race, and we were very confident going in,” Prado said. “He broke good and I was always very comfortable. We had a nice outside post so he was in a good attacking position down the backside, and it was just a matter of turning him loose in the stretch. And when I did, he just took off.”
Purchased privately by Pompa after finishing second in the Frank Gomez Memorial Stakes at Calder last summer and transferred into the barn of Rick Dutrow Jr., D’ Funnybone went on to win the Saratoga Special (gr. II) and Futurity (gr. II) at Belmont. He is now 3-2-0 from six starts with earnings of $368,200.
“I’m happy to get him back and run so well off the layoff,” Dutrow said. “He’s our next little Benny the Bull. He’s a lot like him except for his color.
“At this point, I’m not ready to concede that his race in the Breeders’ Cup was attributable to the distance (1 1/16 miles), but rather the track. Like any 3-year-old at this time of the year you think about the (Kentucky) Derby, so unless something develops to change our mind, the Florida Derby (gr. I, March 27) is likely where he’ll go next.”
D’ Funnybone was bred in Florida by Harold J. Plumley and is out of the Woodman mare Elbow.
The winner paid $4.20, $2.80, and $2.40, and topped an exacta (7-8) worth $10.80. The trifecta (7-8-3) returned $29.90 for $1.