Funny Cide's six owners ecstatic at fortune
BALTIMORE -- Six high school buddies are heading home to New York, ready to put a happy ending on one of the most amazing stories in horse racing history.
No sooner had Funny Cide cruised to victory in the Preakness on Saturday when the owners of the chestnut gelding began talking about the thrill of continuing their pursuit of the Triple Crown in three weeks at Belmont Park.
"We want Belmont to be the best race ever,'' said Jack Knowlton, managing partner for Sackatoga Stable.
Funny Cide has already enjoyed two amazing races this month. First, he stunned the racing world by winning the Kentucky Derby. Then he pulled away to one of the most decisive wins in the history of the Preakness.
"We never thought we'd be at the Derby. Then we won the Derby, then we won the Preakness,'' Knowlton said.
New York-bred Funny Cide was sold as a yearling for $22,000 and bought a year later for $75,000 by Knowlton and his nine co-owner pals. He has five victories in eight starts and earnings of well over $1 million for the partnership, which includes six high school pals from Sacketts Harbor, N.Y.
Looming ahead is a possible $5 million payoff from Visa for winning the Triple Crown.
"One of the (Visa) vice presidents said they'd really like to give away $5 million, and I'd really like to get it,'' Knowlton said.
If Funny Cide can be the first gelding in 74 years to win the Derby, and come within a quarter-length of recording the most decisive victory in Preakness history, then anything's possible.
"I think he showed today that the Derby was not an aberration,'' trainer Barclay Tagg said.
Saturday's amazing 9}-length victory certainly displayed that.
"I think Funny Cide has dispelled a lot of questions,'' Tagg said. "We just have a great ride with this. We wanted to take this New York-bred back home to have a shot at the Triple Crown at Belmont.''
And that's exactly what will happen.
Knowlton and his crew gave credit to Tagg, who was criticized in some circles for bringing the horse to Churchill Downs and Pimlico shortly before each race.
"Barclay has been a class act from Day 1,'' Knowlton said. "Every move he's made with this horse has been right. We knew people were going to say, `You should have shipped to Churchill early and nobody can win if they don't train on the track,' but he proved everybody wrong.''
There will be no reason to ship the horse anywhere for the Belmont, because that's where Funny Cide is stabled.
"Now he doesn't have to go anywhere,'' Knowlton said. "He's at Belmont, he walks about 100 yards to the paddock and races on his home track, where he's undefeated.''