Funny Cide has done it all in his life. The champion racehorse almost won the Triple Crown before ponying horses for his trainer after retiring. These days, the "gutsy gelding" hangs out at the Kentucky Horse Park's Hall of Champions as an ambassador for the sport. He can be seen in many of the hall's daily shows during the park's peak season.
In 2003, Funny Cide and his bus full of owners shipped from New York to Kentucky to take on America’s signature race. They won the race and became a modern day fairy tale.
The gelding made history while winning the Kentucky Derby in a time of 2:01.19 to become the first gelding to win the Kentucky Derby since Clyde Van Dusen in 1929. Funny Cide also made history during the race as the first New York-bred to win the Kentucky Derby and two weeks later became the first gelding ever to have a chance at the Triple Crown when he won the Preakness Stakes by 9 ¾ lengths.
Funny Cide’s Triple Crown bid ended in the Belmont Stakes when he finished third behind Empire Maker and Ten Most Wanted after racing on a hot pace. Funny Cide returned to the track two more times in 2003, finishing third behind Peace Rules in the Haskell Invitational Stakes and a tiring ninth in that year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. The gelding ended the year with a record of two wins, two seconds, and two thirds in 10 starts for $1,963,200 and was named champion 3-year-old male.
The gutsy gelding continued to hold his form in 2004, winning the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Excelsior Breeders' Cup Handicap and placing in five other graded stakes races that year. Funny Cide only raced three times as a 5-year-old, missing the board in all three before a back injury revealed itself after the Suburban Handicap.
As a 6-year-old, Funny Cide made history again when he returned for another season of racing. His return marked the first time a Kentucky Derby returned to the races for a 6-year-old season since 1982 Derby winner Gato del Sol ran twice in 1985.
The gelding took a few races to get rolling in 2006 but nearly won another Excelsior Breeders' Cup Handicap when he finished second in that year’s edition of the race by 1 ¾ lengths before winning the Kings Point Handicap. The consistent gelding won a graded stakes for the third time in five years when he won the Dominion Day Stakes that July.
Funny Cide had a disappointing fall campaign, finishing off the board in three stakes races, but he finished the season with five top-three finishes from 10 starts at six for $235,284 in earnings.
Funny Cide’s final season came in 2007 when he started the year with a seventh-place finish on the synthetic Polytrack surface at Keeneland Race Course, his only start on the surface. His move back to dirt was successful with the gelding finishing third in two stakes races. Funny Cide’s curtain call came in the Wadsworth Memorial Handicap where he beat the field of eight by three lengths on July 4. The date of his final win was a fitting one for a horse who had become America’s horse.
In all, Funny Cide ended his career with a record of 11 wins, six seconds, and eight thirds in 38 starts with nine of his wins coming in stakes for $3,529,412 in lifetime earnings.
Upon retirement from the track, Funny Cide stayed in trainer Barclay Tagg’s to assist the trainer as a stable pony. The pair worked together for a little more than a year before Funny Cide was retired in December 2008 to the Kentucky Horse Park’s Hall of Champions, where he runs the show.
FUNNY CIDE SLIDESHOW
“He’s a little sensitive and he doesn’t care for being touched too much,” said Wes Lanter, Equine Support Manager at the Kentucky Horse Park. “The thing you do with him is just take care of what his needs are and leave him alone. That’s how you get along with him best.”
According to Lanter, Funny Cide is the second-most-popular horse in the barn after fellow resident Cigar. The injuries that bothered Funny Cide throughout his career have also disappeared in retirement.
“He goes out and enjoys paddock time as much as we can give him during this time of year,” Lanter said. “He’s doing great. Nothing has bothered him for a while, so we’re very happy with how he’s doing.”
While Funny Cide wasn’t able to have any foals, his family has continued impacting the Thoroughbred industry even after his retirement.
His dam, Belle’s Good Cide, only had four foals but her daughter Rockcide, by Personal Flag, is the dam of multiple graded stakes winner Rule. Rule is standing in Funny Cide’s native state of New York for his first season at stud.