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It's Not Perfect for Everyone

Pleasantly Perfect wins, but Ten Most Wanted and Perfect Drift have trouble with Funny Cide on the first turn.

October 26, 2003|Bill Christine | Times Staff Writer

Funny Cide was an afterthought for trainer Barclay Tagg, who sent his Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner into Saturday's $4-million Breeders' Cup Classic off an 82-day layoff.

A couple of jockeys in the Classic -- Pat Day aboard Ten Most Wanted and Gary Stevens riding Perfect Drift -- would have been better off if Funny Cide had stayed in New York.

Funny Cide drifted to the outside on the first turn, taking Perfect Drift with him, and Ten Most Wanted, behind the other two horses, was effectively taken out of the race, Day said.

Alex Solis won with Pleasantly Perfect, later dedicating his 1 1/2-length win to Bill Shoemaker, the Hall of Fame jockey who died two weeks ago.

Perfect Drift finished sixth, and Ten Most Wanted, the second choice in the race, was eighth. The only horse Funny Cide beat in the 10-horse field was Volponi, last year's Classic winner.

"There was a big melee out of the gate," Stevens said. "Perfect Drift is a big strong horse, and he escaped that. But going into the turn, Funny Cide came up inside of me. He was real rank [refusing to settle]. He just kept knocking me out and knocking me out. I was six wide, and finally I just eased back. Perfect Drift's a hell of a horse to put up with what he did and still run on like he did."

Ten Most Wanted, winner of the Travers and the Super Derby in his last two starts, was also looking for running space in the first-turn mishmash.

"Funny Cide and Perfect Drift were right in front of me," Day said. "I had to check when Funny Cide got inside Perfect Drift and kept coming out. I had to snag up on Perfect Drift's heels. My horse never got into the race after that. That was the end of the race as far as we were concerned."

Funny Cide was ridden by Julie Krone for the first time. The mount became available when Jose Santos, thinking that Funny Cide wasn't going to run in the Classic, took the assignment on Volponi. Santos, who won last year's Classic with Volponi, rode Funny Cide throughout the Triple Crown.

"I only wish [Funny Cide] ran better," said Krone, who earlier on the card, with Halfbridled in the Juvenile Fillies, became the first woman to ride a Breeders' Cup winner. "That stuff on the turn happens a hundred times."

Funny Cide, winless since the Preakness, and Empire Maker, who won the Belmont to thwart Funny Cide's Triple Crown bid, are the leading contenders for the Eclipse Award for best 3-year-old male. Empire Maker was retired in September.

The Classic was Funny Cide's second straight hot-weather race. In his only start since running third in the Belmont, he was a badly beaten third in the Haskell on a hot, muggy day at Monmouth Park. The temperature reached 99 degrees at Santa Anita on Saturday.

"He doesn't like hot weather," Tagg said. "We knew that, but we took our shot. It was a lot to ask for him to face older horses in this spot after the long layoff. He just didn't run his race."

Medaglia d'Oro, who finished second, 1 1/2 lengths behind Pleasantly Perfect, made the lead in midstretch after battling Congaree on the front end all the way.

"If things didn't go perfectly, it was going to be a speed duel, and that's exactly what it was," said Jerry Bailey, who rode Medaglia d'Oro. "If I broke good, I was going to let my horse run enough to spread the race out and then take back and give him a breather. But [the break] didn't come up like that. My horse never quit fighting. It looked like Congaree put him away, and he came back. I just hoped nobody was coming from behind."

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