By Marsha Hayes
When Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide is welcomed at the Kentucky Horse Park this Friday, Dec. 5, it will signal a new era of complete retirement and rest for a phenomenal athlete.
"Funny has really been in training or working almost his entire life," noted assistant trainer Robin Smullen. With earnings of more than $3.5 million, the 8-year-old has literally earned the rest.
Funny Cide, trained by Barclay Tagg and Smullen, retired from racing last July, but immediately went to work as a pony horse. Lately, Tagg noticed he "seemed just a little bit stiff in his back."
"When Funny was five, he had to be abruptly checked during a race," Smullen recalled. "We had a hard time getting Funny over the soreness." They turned to acupuncture and other therapies to help the horse overcome his sore back.
|Funny Cide Slide Show|
"It is not a major thing, but Barclay just didn't want Funny to be stiff," Smullen explained. "Every single day, as a pony horse, Barclay is sitting on him, and we just don't want Funny to have any discomfort at all."
Retirement, be it equine or human, can be a delicate physical and mental transition. WinStar Farms, in Versailles, Ky., is housing the famous gelding they bred while Funny Cide awaits his induction ceremony.
Like many retirement decisions, this one can be rescinded if it does not work out. "If he doesn't take to it, he can come home," Smullen said. Tagg and Smullen plan to monitor Funny Cide's adjustment to complete rest and retirement.
"I want to do what is best for him," Smullen stated.