Sackatoga Stable's Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Funny Cide will likely make his next start in the $250,000, nine-furlong Empire Classic as part of Belmont Park's "New York Showcase Fall Festival" on Saturday, Oct. 18.
"The owners have expressed a strong desire to run in the Empire Classic," said trainer Barclay Tagg. "The horse is doing very well, and that's where we will point him."
Funny Cide breezed six furlongs in a bullet 1:11 4/5 on Belmont Park's main track Monday morning.
The Empire Classic will mark Funny Cide's first start against older horses. The three-year-old, New York-bred is a gelded son of Distorted Humor and missed becoming racing's 12th Triple Crown winner when he ran third in the slop in the Belmont Stakes behind victorious Empire Maker and Ten Most Wanted.
Funny Cide, however, remains a serious candidate for the division championship. In addition to his historic victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, he was second in Aqueduct's Wood Memorial (gr. I) and third in Monmouth's Haskell Invitational (gr. I). Illness kept both Funny Cide and Empire Maker out of Saratoga's Travers (gr. I).
Previously, Tagg had mentioned Aqueduct's $350,000 Cigar Mile (gr. I) on Nov. 29 as Funny Cide's long-range and final objective of 2003.The Empire Classic is one of seven restricted stakes races for New York breds on the Oct. 18 Belmont card, which is dedicated to the New York State Breeding & Racing Program. Weights for the Empire Classic will be announced on Sunday, Oct. 12.