Paul Pompa Jr. is reluctant to compare any of his young horses to 2008 dual classic winner Big Brown, but the New York based owner is not afraid to say that D' Funnybone could be something special.
“You never get that high or psych yourself up like that. You go one step at a time,” said Pompa when asked if D’ Funnybone reminds him of Big Brown. Pompa, along with IEAH Stables, owned last year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Preakness (gr. I) winner. “But (trainer) Rick (Dutrow Jr.) likes him a lot and so do I. He’s worked tremendously and we expect him to run huge.”
D’ Funnybone, a son of D'wildcat—Elbow, by Woodman, will likely be the overwhelming favorite for the $250,000 Futurity (gr. II) Sept. 20 at Belmont Park. The seven-furlong race for juveniles is the feature on a card that also includes the Matron (gr. II) for juvenile fillies, and the Noble Damsel (gr. IIIT).
Pompa and his team, which includes bloodstock agent Nick Sallusto, certainly have an eye for young talent. An owner of a New York trucking business, Pompa bought Big Brown out of the 2007 Keeneland April sale of 2-year-olds in training for $190,000 before selling a 75% interest to IEAH for millions.
In the case of D’ Funnybone, who is the lone stakes winner in the field, Pompa purchased him privately after the chestnut colt finished runner-up by a half-length in the July 11 Frank Gomez Memorial Stakes at Calder Race Course. He broke his maiden the race before that by 7 1/4 lengths over the same track.
D’ Funnybone really turned heads on Aug. 20 when he romped by 10 1/2 lengths in the Saratoga Special (gr. II), suggesting that Pompa may have struck gold once again.
“Nick Sallutso, who I got to know from the Big Brown days, called me after the Frank Gomez and we went forward (with the private purchase),” Pompa said. “He had a cough in the Gomez or he probably would have won that race.
“Rick told me he belongs in this kind of race. The timing just wasn’t right for the Sanford and then the timing was not right after the Saratoga Special for the Hopeful.”
Bred in Florida by Harold Plumley, D’ Funnybone has worked twice at Aqueduct in preparation for the Futurity. If he runs as well as Pompa and team are expecting, he will likely be trained right up to the $2 million Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) Nov. 7 at Santa Anita Park. Pompa said he thinks his colt has the right kind of breeding to do well on Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride synthetic surface.
Edgar Prado will have the return mount on D’ Funnybone and they will break from post 6.
Also coming out of the Saratoga Special are the fourth and eighth place finishers, Insightful and Thiskyhasnolimit, respectively. North Shore Racing’s Insightful, by E Dubai, broke his maiden at Belmont in July for Barclay Tagg before finishing more than 12 lengths back of D' Funnybone in the Saratoga Special. Bob and Cathy Zollars, and Mark Wagner’s Thiskyhasnolimit broke his maiden at Churchill Downs by seven lengths in the slop.The son of Sky Mesa was in contention for a half-mile in the Saratoga Special before faltering.
Making their stakes debuts are a couple of impressive maiden winners at Saratoga, Discreetly Mine and Successful Score. E Paul Robsham’s Discreetly Mine went wire-to-wire to romp by 6 1/4 lengths Aug. 22 in his third maiden try. West Point Thoroughbreds’ Successful Score also needed three races to reach the winner’s circle, which he accomplished Aug. 17 for Dale Romans. He breaks from post 8 this time.
$250,000 Futurity (gr. II, Race 8, 4:43 p.m.), 2YO, 7 Furlongs (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Discreetly Mine (KY), C H Velasquez, 120, S M Hough
2. Soundman (KY), R Maragh, 120, D W Lukas
3. Hear Ye Hear Ye (FL), R A Dominguez, 120, T Ritvo
4. Grand Rapport (KY), M J Luzzi, 120, G C Contessa
5. Insightful (KY), J Castellano, 120, B Tagg
6. D' Funnybone (FL), E S Prado, 120, R E Dutrow, Jr.
7. Thiskyhasnolimit (KY), S Bridgmohan, 120, S M Asmussen
8. Successful Score (KY), R Albarado, 120, D L Romans