NYRA announces Funny Cide Day at Saratoga.

NYRA announces Funny Cide Day at Saratoga.

Skip Dickstein

Saratoga Notebook: Funny Cide Day Aug. 13; Sackatoga 2-Year-Old Debuts; Coa, Velasquez Suspended

By Mike Kane and Phil Janack
Shortly after the other half of the Sackatoga Stable made his debut Friday afternoon, the New York Racing Association announced that Aug. 13 will be Funny Cide Day at Saratoga Race Course.

NYRA will honor the New York-bred gelding winner of the Kentucky Derby (gr.I) and the Preakness (gr.I) between his scheduled starts in the Haskell Invitational (gr.I) on Aug. 3 and the Travers (gr.I) on Aug. 23.

Funny Cide will school in the paddock at 11:30 a.m. and the second race will be named for him. Fans attending the races that day will receive a commemorative poster.

NYRA also announced that the final giveaway promotion of the season on Aug. 31 will be a Funny Cide T-shirt.

Sackatoga's 2-year-old Wheaton colt Saratoga Episode, also trained by Barclay Tagg, closed in the stretch to finish second in the second race on the program, a five-furlong race for maiden New York breds. The Saratoga Springs-based stable purchased the colt for $17,000 in Oct. 2002.

Following Saratoga Episode's race, Tagg said he was tentatively planning to give Funny Cide his final Haskell work early Monday morning.

Tagg said that Funny Cide has galloped approximately a mile and a half in the morning since shipping to Saratoga from Belmont Park on Tuersday.

"He's doing well. He's doing fine," Tagg said. "I'm satisfied."

Saratoga Episode broke last in the field of seven under Javier Castellano, but moved up into a contending position on the turn. Bond Arbitrage, a son of Forest Wildcat owned by Klaravich Stables, was a gate to wire winner under Richard Migliore while in hand.

In the final sixteenth, Saratoga Episode continued his drive to cut into the lead and finished 11/4 lengths back.

"I thought he raced real well," said Jack Knowlton, Sackatoga's managing partner. "He was a little green at the start, didn't get out well, but I loved the way he finished. That was a five-furlong race. If that race was 5_ or six he wins it.

"I'm very encouraged. He finished full of run. It's a good start. That first race you never know what to expect. He showed us he's got some ability. That's all you can ask that first time. Good debut."

Knowlton said that Tagg told him he expected the colt would run well.

"We weren't expecting that we were going to go out and win by 14 like Funny Cide did the first time," Knowlton said. "We're just happy that he raced well and we've got the next race to look forward to. That's all you can ask for in this game."

As part of Funny Cide Day, Knowlton and other members of the Funny Cide team will take part in a poster signing session. A $5 fee will be charged for the autographs, with the money donated to Anna House, the backstretch childcare center at Belmont Park.

A special video of tribute to Funny Cide will be shown prior to the schooling and again after the second race.

Empire Maker, Peace Rules, Sky Mesa Work Saturday

With the rain over the Saratoga track back in good condition, three other 3-year-olds headed for the Haskell and the Jim Dandy (gr.II), are scheduled to work Saturday morning.

Trainer Bobby Frankel said that Wood Memorial (gr.I) and Belmont Stakes (gr.I) winner Empire Maker will breeze in preparation for the Jim Dandy. Frankel also plans to work Peace Rules, who is going to the Haskell.

Trainer John Ward said that Sky Mesa, who may make his second start of the season in the Haskell, is scheduled to work. Ward said he had not decided whether to work Sky Mesa on the Oklahoma training track or the main track.

In addition, trainer P.G. Johnson said the Breeders' Cup Classic winner Volponi will train on the main track Saturday morning for the Whitney Handicap (gr.I) on Aug. 2.

Gygistar Returning to Form

Multiple stakes winner Gygistar rolled to a decisive victory Friday in his first start since February. The 4-year-old Prospectot's Music gelding owned by Edward P. Evans, returned to racing after undergoing surgery to remove a knee chip.

Under Jerry Bailey, the 4-year-old Prospector's Music gelding moved to the lead at the top of the stretch in the third race, and pulled away in a hand ride to win by 5 3/4 lengths over Conman Cunningham. Gygistar, winner of the King's Bishop (gr.I) last summer, covered the six furlongs in 1:09 2/5 as the 3-5 favorite.

"That was great. That was the real Gygistar," trainer Mark Hennig said. "It's good to see him come back that way."

Gygistar saved ground on the inside before Bailey swung him out three wide rounding the final turn. Bailey acknowledged that it was an easy victory.

"He always puts you close enough to where you never worry about making up the lengths," Bailey said. "Then, he just pounces on them."

Hennig said Gygistar may run next in the Forego Handicap (gr.I) on Aug. 31.

Possibility Scratched from Debut Monday

Monday's planned debut of Possibility, a half-sister to My Flag and Storm Flag Flying, has been postponed because the A.P. Indy filly spiked a fever Thursday afternoon.

Trainer Shug McGaughey said Friday that the 2-year-old daughter of the unbeaten champion Personal Ensign may be ready to race before the meet ends on Sept. 1, but will definitely miss the maiden race on Monday.

"She got sick, so she's not gonna run," McGaughey said. "It's just a bug. She's OK. It was just a little temperature. It's normal now but it was up (Thursday) afternoon."

Coa, Velasquez Handed 10-Day Suspensions

On Friday, Eibar Coa and Cornelio Velasquez became the second and third jockeys to receive 10-day suspensions from the New York State Racing and Wagering Board steward for careless riding at Saratoga.

Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Jose Santos received a suspension from the NYSRWB on Thursday.

All three immediately appealed the suspensions and remain eligible to ride.

Coa was penalized for an incident in the seventh race on Thursday, while Velasquez was suspended for a disqualification in the ninth race on Thursday.

Around the Spa

Trainer Patrick Biancone said that multiple stakes winner Zavata is like to breeze Sunday morning in preparation for the six-furlong Amsterdam (gr.II) on Aug. 2. Biancone said that no matter how Zavata runs in the Amsterdam, he will not be entered in the seven-furlong King's Bishop on Aug. 23 because he is not ready for the distance.

Sanford (gr.II) winner Chapel Royal is likely to run next in the Hopeful (gr.I) on Aug. 30, trainer Todd Pletcher said Friday. However, Pletcher said he was not sure what the next race will be fore Heckle, who started slowly in the Sanford and finished last.

Two-time Sword Dancer Invitational (gr.I) winner With Anticipation worked five furlongs in 1:02 3/5 Friday morning over the main track. With Anticipation, who is winless in three starts this year, is being pointed for the Sword Dancer by trainer Jonathan Sheppard.

Also working Friday was the 4-year-old Outer Reef, who has not started since finishing fourth in the Remsen (gr.II). He covered six furlongs on the main track in 1:13 3/5. Trainer John Kimmel is returning from a ligament tear and "left stifle issues."