Jockeys Jose Santos, left, and Jerry Bailey flank Belmont announcer Tom Durkin.

Jockeys Jose Santos, left, and Jerry Bailey flank Belmont announcer Tom Durkin.

Skip Dickstein

Belmont Draw: Four Horse in the Cide Pocket

Funny Cide, who will attempt to become Thoroughbred racing's 12th winner of the Triple Crown Saturday in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), will do so from post 4. The Sackatoga Stable star will face five challengers in the 1 ½-mile "Test of a Champion." Funny Cide was installed the even-money favorite for the race, with Empire Maker made the second choice at 6-5. Empire Maker will break from the rail.

Funny Cide could win a $5-million bonus from Visa if he can be the first horse to sweep the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978.

Belmont Stakes (gr. I), Saturday, June 7, Belmont Park, New York
Purse: $1,000,000
Distance, conditions: 1 1/2 miles, 3-year-olds
TV: NBC, 5:30-7:00 p.m. (EDT)
Approximate Post Time: 6:38 p.m. (EDT)

Post Position, Horse, Trainer, Jockey, Morning-Line Odds
1--Empire Maker, Bobby Frankel, Jerry Bailey, 6-5
2--Supervisor, Linda Rice, John Velazquez, 50-1
3--Scrimshaw, D. Wayne Lukas, Gary Stevens, 20-1
4--Funny Cide, Barclay Tagg, Jose Santos, Even
5--Dynever, Christophe Clement, Edgar Prado, 5-1
6--Ten Most Wanted, Wally Dollase, Pat Day, 10-1

Prior to the draw, which was conducted at a press breakfast on the fourth floor of the Belmont clubhouse, Jack Knowlton, managing partner of Sackatoga Stable said, "The only one I don't want is the outside post. It's not a large field, so it really shouldn't matter. We already had the lucky '6' in the Derby." In the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), Funny Cide was in post 6; in the Preakness, Funny Cide broke from post 9 in the 10-horse field.

The race drew only six entries with the late defection of Best Minister. The Phillips Racing Partnership colt was not entered after the son of Deputy Minister coughed Wednesday morning. Trainer Kenny McPeek said the colt didn't scope clean and had not finished up his feed in the morning. It saves the racing partnership $100,000, as he was to be a supplementary entry.

With only six horses, most of the players felt the draw insignificant. Jockey Jerry Bailey, who will pilot Juddmonte Farms' Empire Maker, said drawing the rail was "not relevant in this race." Bailey, who rode Empire Maker to a second-place finish in the Derby said, "I attribute some of his loss in Kentucky to losing more ground than Jose (Santos, on Funny Cide), so that shouldn't be a problem here going into the first turn. I would suspect that Funny Cide, probably having a little bit more natural speed than I do anyway, and a :57 and change work, would probably be in front of me. Scrimshaw is a forwardly placed horse. It could be Jose in front, Scrimshaw second, me third. It could be a variation of all those things. If you guys remember last year, War Emblem stumbled leaving the gate. You know, a lot of things can happen when the gates open."

Bailey said Empire Maker was "still a good horse and I'm going to ride him accordingly."

Barclay Tagg, the trainer of Funny Cide, wasn't overly concerned about the post, because, "He's just a good-feeling, big, strong horse. Most horses get a little tired during this three-race trip, and he seems to be getting bigger and stronger every day. I just walked by him a little while ago and he was just tearing his lunch out of his pot and he did the same thing last night. I would liked to have had a little slower work in him, but he did it rather easily."

When asked about Funny Cide's speed and the demands of running 1 ½ miles, Tagg said, "I think Jose has to approach that problem. Hopefully we won't go in :46 for a mile and a half. Jose should be able to position him nicely. You've got top riders in there; anyone of them is as good as they come. When you've all got top riders, everybody's playing the same hand."

Wally Dollase, the trainer of Ten Most Wanted, liked the outside draw for his son of Deputy Commander. "It's good for him," Dollase said. "He gets a little anxious in the gate. He'll walk right in, that's no problem, but he wants to break fast; he wants out of there. He'll be the last one in, so that should help him."

Dollase was concerned about the weather. "This horse has never had a bad, or off, race track. I'm hoping that Friday and Saturday will ease up for us. But who knows, he might run well on it. He hasn't had that experience."

Peter Karches, co-owner of Dynever, represented his horse at the draw. He said Dynever "is a lightly-raced horse, he's very fresh, and everything we've ask him to do, he's done very well. The only issue I have is whether or not he's fast enough to contend with these horses."