Edited from a release
New York's favorite gelding has headed south for the winter. Dual classic winner Funny Cide arrived at Gulfstream Park Wednesday morning.
Trainer Barclay Tagg is using Gulfstream as a layover for the Kentucky Derby-Preakness Stakes (both gr. I) winner until the stabling area at the Palm Meadows Thoroughbred Training Center in Boynton Beach opens Nov. 29.
The trip from New York was uneventful for Funny Cide, despite going through a rocky stretch of I-95, from South Carolina to northern Florida, in which tornado warnings were issued through Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.
Funny Cide arrived at 11:40 a.m. after traveling along with four other Tagg-trained horses in a Cooper Horse Transportation van carrying the same gray-maroon colors as the big horse's owner, Sackatoga Stable.
Assistant trainer Robin Smullen drove in from New York and beat the van by a couple of hours. She went through the same threatening weather, and had her own troubles on I-95, fixing a flat tire outside Fayetteville, N.C., en route to Gulfstream. Tagg will remain in New York until later this month when his Florida outfit is sent to Palm Meadows, 47 miles north of Gulfstream.
Palm Meadows and Gulfstream are owned by Magna Entertainment Corp.
Smullen said that, aside from typical morning stretches outside his stall, Funny Cide will not be doing much in the way of hard exercise while at Gulfstream, perhaps breezing once before his move to Palm Meadows.
She said the 3-year-old gelding is something of a handful if he feels crowded.
"He doesn't like a lot of people around. He gets pumped up and he thinks he has a race to run," Smullen said.
She said he came out of his Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) experience none the worse for wear after his ninth-place finish.
"I don't think anything happened to him outside of the weather," she said. "We know he doesn't like it hot and it was 97 degrees that day. In the 70s is perfect for him."
Smullen said Team Funny Cide has planned on two races at the upcoming Gulfstream Park meet, which opens Jan. 3 and closes April 25. The target is the $500,000 Donn Handicap (gr. I), which will be run at nine furlongs Feb. 7. Tagg is hoping to get a prep race in before that, possibly the $100,000 Hal's Hope Handicap at a mile and a sixteenth on opening day. Win, lose or draw, Smullen ruled out an appearance in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) after the Donn.
Funny Cide wintered at Palm Meadows last year, and ran fifth in the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream on Jan. 18 after hitting the side of the gate at the start and being forced to race wide throughout. From there he was second in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) in March and Wood Memorial (gr. I) in April before winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in his magnificent May. He fell short of a Triple Crown sweep when Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Empire Maker took his measure in the Belmont Stakes in June, finishing third that day, then third again to Peace Rules in the Haskell in August.
Funny Cide and Empire Maker are the leading contenders for an Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old.