Countdown to the Kentucky Derby - 16 Days to Go!!

Countdown to the Kentucky Derby - 16 Days to Go!!

Funny Cide, the little chestnut that could, was the first New York bred to capture the Run for the Roses. So named because of his sire and dam, the colt was by Distorted Humor and out of a grand-daughter of Seattle Slew named Belle’s Good Cide. Bred at Winstar Farm in Kentucky, the mare was sent to New York to have her foal to take advantage of the New York breeders program. Owned by Joe and Anne McMahon, they entered the colt into the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale, where he was purchased by Tony Everard for $20,000. Everard shipped the colt to Florida and made the decision to geld the ridgling colt.  

Purchased by trainer Barclay Tagg for $75,000 in March of 2002 for the Sackatoga Stable partnership, the juvenile wouldn’t make his first start until September, when he easily broke his maiden by 14 ¾ lengths. Making the jump up to stakes company, he won the Bertram F. Bongard and the Sleepy Hollow Stakes, ending his season undefeated while earning 2YO New York bred Champion.  

At 3, Funny Cide went into the Derby off of a 5th and a 3rd in the Holy Bull Stakes and Louisiana Derby. Trying his luck in the Wood Memorial, the chestnut gelding managed second, finishing a ½ length behind Empire Maker.   Derby Day dawned clear and warm for the 129th running. Empire Maker, the well-bred son of 1990 Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled out of the amazing broodmare Toussaud, was made the favorite despite having missed some training due to a bruised hoof. Funny Cide went off as the sixth choice at odds of 13-1, even though he turned in several impressive works prior to shipping to Louisville. Under jockey Jose Santos, the duo had a perfect trip after bumping with Offlee Wild out of the gate. Following the early pace that was being set by the dueling Brancusi and Peace Rules, Funny Cide took over the lead while they were on the far turn heading into the stretch. Empire Maker started to make a move to catch the gutsy gelding, however it fell short, and Funny Cide cruised under the wire,  ¾  lengths in front in a time of 2:01.19. It was the first time since 1929’s victory by Clyde Van Dusen that a gelding collected the Roses, additionally it was the first victory for Barclay Tagg, who won the Derby on his first attempt.  

Two weeks later, the Derby victor was a runaway winner in the Preakness, taking the second leg by 9 ¾ lengths, the second largest margin in the race’s history. Going into the Belmont with a shot at the Triple Crown on the line, the little chestnut with New York connections drew near-record crowds to the track; all who hoped to see him take the Carnations while making history. After a clean break, Funny Cide fought Santos who wanted to slow down the pace so that his mount had something left for the finish. Unfortunately, his lead wouldn’t last, as Empire Maker drew up alongside and then passed the tiring gelding who wound up third behind Empire Maker and Ten Most Wanted. Funny Cide raced until 2007, when he was retired to become Tagg’s stable pony. Working at the track for about a year, he was finally retired to the life of a resident at the Kentucky Horse Park, where he enjoys the leisurely life of being turned out and treated to carrots.

(Photo courtesy of KDM archives)

Rickelle  Nelson

Rickelle Nelson

Reservations Manager for the Kentucky Derby Museum