Trainer Barclay Tagg with perennial fan favorite Funny Cide.

Trainer Barclay Tagg with perennial fan favorite Funny Cide.

Barbara D. Livingston

Dual Classic Winner Funny Cide Retired at Age 7

Sackatoga Stable's Funny Cide, winner of the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness (both gr. I) and one of the most popular horses in recent years, has been retired, trainer Barclay Tagg said Friday.

Sackatoga Stable’s Funny Cide, winner of the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness (both gr. I) and one of the most popular horses in recent years, has been retired, trainer Barclay Tagg said July 13.

Tagg stated that Funny Cide retires perfectly sound. After conferring with Sackatoga managing partner Jack Knowlton and assistant trainer Robin Smullen, it was decided this was a perfect time to retire the New York-bred son of Distorted Humor –Belle’s Good Cide, by Slewacide.

“We decided that after the great fun and excitement of  watching Funny Cide win the Wadsworth Memorial at Finger Lakes at the age of 7, it would be a good note on which to retire the horse,” Tagg said. “He had tremendous 3-year-old and 4-year-old seasons, and won stakes every year, except his 5-year-old year.

“His fabulous accomplishments have thrilled us all for so long. We’ll probably keep him at the track for a while, and either Robin or I will ride him out to the track with the sets each morning. He’ll continue to be pampered, just as he’s been his entire career. We’re all thrilled to be able to retire him sound and happy.”

Tagg said that Funny Cide was out on the track Friday morning with Smullen aboard and looked great. “He was dappled from head to toe and looks like a million dollars,” he said. “If anyone came to see him they would be elated with the way he looks. But you have to stop on them sometime, and we’ve received a lot of critical mail for not retiring him. We just felt this was a good time; he doesn’t need to run anymore. If you try to get another stakes or two out of him and he couldn’t do it, then you’d wish you retired him now.

“He just won a stakes at 7, and everyone had so much fun and excitement out there; the people were wild, according to Robin. We all talked about it at dinner last night, and we felt this was the best time to retire him. I don’t want to wait until he gets hurt or something like that.”

Tagg said Funny Cide is so happy being at the track, they’re just going to keep riding him like a stable pony and let him go out with the sets each morning.

“You have to let him down anyway,” Tagg said. “We’ll just see how that goes. We’ve had some inquiries, but I’m not really wild about putting him out in a field fighting flies the rest of his life. It’s like working your whole life and then having someone tell you to go live in cave from now on. So, for now we’ll see how he likes being a stable pony. He’d even make a beautiful show horse.”

Knowlton said the decision to retire Funny Cide was bittersweet. "You always know it's going to come, and you're never in a rush for it, but it's been a great ride for all of us and we're ending it on a good note, back near the roots where the 'Sackets Harbor Six' got together in 1995," Knowlton said. "And obviously, we've picked up a few more along the way.

"He's run some decent races this year, but it doesn't come easy for him anymore. I'll tell you, though, the experience up at Finger Lakes was a like a mini-Belmont Stakes day. Everybody was there to see Funny Cide, and fortunately he won, so it was a real feel-good day for all of us and the fans. It was a very fitting way to end it."

Funny Cide retires with 11 victories from 38 starts, with six seconds and eight thirds, for earnings of $3,529,412. In addition to his victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, he captured the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) and Excelsior Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. III) and placed in the grade I Belmont Stakes, Suburban Handicap, Haskell Invitational, Donn Handicap, and Wood Memorial, and grade II Massachusetts Handicap, Louisiana Derby, Saratoga Breeders’ Cup, and New Orleans Handicap.

Bred by WinStar Farm and born and raised at Anne and Joe McMahon’s farm near Saratoga, Funny Cide was the subject of a 2004 biography written by Sally Jenkins and the Funny Cide Team.

The team consists of Sackets Harbor High School buddies Jack Knowlton, Mark Phillips, Peter Phillips, Larry Reinhardt, Harold Cring, and Jon Constance, along with Dave Mahan, Eric Dattner, Lew Titterton, and the late Gus Williams.

Funny Cide was sold as a yearling to Tony Everard at the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred yearling sale for $22,000. Tagg had taken a liking to the horse when he saw him at Everard's Farm. Everard eventually had him for sale privately for $75,000, which was too steep for Sackataga Stable. But when their 6-year-old mare, Bail Money, was claimed for $62,500 at Gulfstream Park on March 6, 2002, it gave them enough money to purchase Funny Cide. The ride of a lifetime was about to begin..