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It's No Laughing Matter to Funny Cide's Trainer

May 17, 2003|Bill Christine | Times Staff Writer

BALTIMORE — After shooing reporters and photographers away from his barn at Belmont Park all week, trainer Barclay Tagg quietly shipped Funny Cide from New York to Pimlico Friday afternoon. The Kentucky Derby winner arrived about 18 hours ahead of schedule.

The testy Tagg, apparently feeling the pressure of his first Triple Crown campaign, said earlier in the week that Funny Cide wouldn't arrive until 8 this morning for today's Preakness. Instead, the New York-bred gelding galloped at Belmont, and after a four-hour van ride from New York, he reached Pimlico just before 2 p.m.

"Barclay came a little sooner because of the storm warnings up and down the East Coast," said Jack Knowlton, managing partner of the 10-man syndicate that owns Funny Cide. "If there's a muddy track [today], it shouldn't bother our horse. His best time [according to speed figures] came on an off track when he was second in the Wood Memorial."

Funny Cide is stabled on the backside at Pimlico, at a barn where Maryland trainer Mary Eppler has her horses. The Derby winner is usually stabled on the front side of the Preakness barn, not far from the grandstand, but Tagg prefers the seclusion of the Eppler barn, away from most of the other Preakness horses. Peace Rules, also avoiding the Preakness barn, is stabled at another front-side barn. In 2000, trainer Neil Drysdale stabled Fusaichi Pegasus, the Derby winner, on the front side. Fusaichi Peagus ran second to Red Bullet.

Only two media types showed up at Tagg's Belmont barn early Friday morning, and he sent both of them away. Sitting on his stable pony, Tagg glowered at a reporter and barked: "I want you to understand, and I'm going to be as polite as I can about it. We've got people working here, and my insurance is out of sight. I can't talk until later on -- when I get done training."

Funny Cide was resting in his stall, but Tagg told a photographer that he wouldn't be able to shoot any pictures, even from outside the barn.


On a rainy day and over a sloppy track, Mineshaft notched a 3 3/4-length victory Friday in the $600,000 Pimlico Special. Western Pride, a Hollywood Park shipper ridden by Pat Valenzuela, led at the top of the stretch before finishing second, a head in front of Judge's Case.

The rest of the order of finish was Colonial Colony, Puzzlement, Snake Mountain, Aeneas, Hero's Tribute and Balto Star.

Mineshaft, ridden by Robby Albarado, paid $4.60 as the favorite, running 1 3/16 miles in 1:56. Since arriving from England last fall to be trained by Neil Howard, the 4-year-old colt has won six of seven starts.

In other stakes at Pimlico, Roar Emotion, at 3-1, beat Fircroft by a half-length in the $200,000 Black-Eyed Susan, and favored Mandy's Gold overhauled Summer Colony in the stretch to win the $150,000 Pimlico Distaff by a neck.

Santa Catarina, the 4-5 favorite in the Black-Eyed Susan, got within a head of Roar Emotion after six furlongs, but finished third, beaten by nine lengths.

"I knew she was in trouble at the quarter pole," said Bob Baffert, who trains Santa Catarina.


Winning Kentucky Derby jockey Jose Santos and 13 other jockeys who rode in this year's race were fined $500 each for wearing a Jockeys' Guild logo on their pants during the race, Churchill Downs announced.

The only jockeys not fined were Jerry Bailey and Pat Day.

Stewards fined the jockeys under a Kentucky administrative regulation that says "advertising, promotional, or cartoon symbols or wording which in the opinion of the commission are not in keeping with the traditions of the Turf are prohibited."

The other jockeys fined were Robby Albarado, Tyler Baze, Calvin Borel, Eibar Coa, Kent Desormeaux, Tony Farina, David Flores, Rosemary Homeister Jr., Edgar Prado, Shane Sellers, Alex Solis, Gary Stevens and Cornelio Velasquez.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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