Saratoga Notebook: Wheeling, Dealing with Funny Cide; Sky Mesa Waits; Dollar Bill Plummets

Some six weeks after his bid for the Triple Crown ended in the Belmont Stakes (gr.I), the Funny Cide merchandising bandwagon has started rolling into his hometown, Saratoga Springs.

Jack Knowlton, the managing partner of Sackatoga Stable, said the partnership has concluded a number of business deals that developed after the horse became so popular during the Triple Crown. Knowlton said that Sackatoga has chosen International Creative Management as its representative.

According to Knowlton, Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post has been selected to write a book about Sackatoga and Funny Cide. The book, which will be published by Putnam, is to be released in April.

Funny Cide Light Beer will be introduced during a party from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Olde Saratoga Brewery. The beer is being brewed in Saratoga Springs for the Sackets Harbor Brewing Company. Knowlton grew up in Sackets Harbor with five other members of the Sackatoga group.

Also this week, two Funny Cide private label wines, a Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc, produced by Millbrook Winery, are going on sale this week in the Saratoga region.

Knowlton said that artist Leroy Neiman has completed a painting of Funny Cide. Prints of the painting will go on sale and an artist's signing is being planned for the day before the Travers.

On Monday, the National Museum of Racing opened a Funny Cide exhibit in its lobby of items on loan from the Sackatoga Stable. The display includes the Kentucky Derby and Preakness trophies, a set of Sackatoga silks, and saddle towels.

The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner shipped in to Saratoga Race Course from Belmont Park Tuesday morning with trainer Barclay Tagg's outfit. Funny Cide walked off the van into a stall in Tagg's barn at about 9:30 a.m.

"He's fine said assistant trainer Robin Smullen. "There were no problems getting in."

Funny Cide, bred at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds and owned by the Saratoga Springs-based Sackatoga Stable, is scheduled to make his first start of the summer on Aug. 3 in the $1 million Haskell Invitational (gr.I) at Monmouth Park. Following the Haskell, Funny Cide is expected to return to Saratoga to face Belmont winner Empire Maker in the $1 million Travers (gr.I) on Aug. 23.

Sky Mesa's Next Race? Flip a Coin
The only thing trainer John Ward is certain of is that Sky Mesa's next race will be on Aug. 3.

Whether it is in the Jim Dandy (gr.II) or the Haskell has yet to be determined.

A top contender for the Triple Crown series at the start of the year, Sky Mesa was slowed by injuries and didn't race until July 6 when he finished third in the Dwyer (gr.II) at Belmont Park. The Travers is Ward's goal for the winner of last year's Hopeful (gr.I)

"He'll probably get one more work in before he runs on that weekend," Ward said Tuesday. "We'll make up our mind in a few days what we're going to do.

"There's no rush. We've got to wait and see which way everybody breaks. It's kind of like theparting of the Red Sea. Half of them are going to the Haskell and the other half are going to go to the Jim Dandy."

As a result, Ward and owner John Oxley are using the time available before deciding whether to face Funny Cide and Peace Rules in the Haskell or Empire Maker in the Jim Dandy.

"Once you commit on these things then you've you've just about got to keep your direction," he said. "So we're just going to wait a few days before we figure it out."

Ward said the decision could be based on a number of factors.

"Like what the weather is," he said. "If the weather is 110 down there and 60 degrees here; you've just got to watch all this stuff. And the two favorites here could go by the wayside. You just never know."

Frankel Puts Dollar Bill on Sidelines

Trainer Bobby Frankel said Tuesday that Dollar Bill, recently third in the Suburban Handicap (gr.I) at Belmont, is sidelined with an undisclosed injury.

"He ran really well, but he came up with a problem so I had to stop on him," Frankel said Tuesday.

Frankel said the horse will be out of action for a few months.

"It's not a major thing. It just needs time to heal up."

In addition, Frankel said that Midas Eyes has a bruised right from foot that will cause him to miss the Amsterdam (gr.II) on Aug. 2. If the colt recovers on schedule, Frankel said he may be able to make his next start in the King's Bishop (gr.I) on Aug. 23. Also being pointed to the King's Bishop is Ghostzapper.

Frankel, winner of 13 graded stakes at Saratoga the past two summers, steps into stakes company Saturday with Heat Haze and Petruisane in the Diana Handicap (gr.I) on Saturday. Sightseek is ready for the Go for Wand (gr.I) on Sunday.

Jim Dandy (gr.II) and Travers (gr.I) winner Medaglia d'Oro and Santa Anita Handicap (gr.I) winner Milwaukee Brew are scheduled to run in the Whitney (gr.I) on Aug. 2 and Empire Maker will make his first start since the Belmont Stakes in the Jim Dandy on Aug. 3.