One year ago today, I was looking at a map to see where in the world Finger Lakes Racetrack was. It turned out to be in western New York state, and too far for a day’s drive.
I knew there was a good chance that the Wadsworth Stakes to be run there on the Fourth of July would be won by one of my favorite racehorses of all time, the over-achiever New York bred, Funny Cide.
I also knew there was a good that that it would be his last race, and that is how it turned out. He went out of the racing game with a blanket of flowers around his neck and a deafening roar of the crowd in his ears. And over $3 million in earnings to the big chestnut gelding’s credit.
Funny Cide didn’t go to a farm. He didn’t go to the Kentucky Horse Park. I can think of about a million people who would have offered him a stall (including me) but his trainer, Barclay Tagg, had other plans.
Funny Cide went to work. For the past year, he has still been getting up early. He was still shipped to Florida for the winter. He still feels the bit between his teeth each morning, still needs the liniment by mid-morning.
But it’s a western bridle, and there’s a thick cushy saddle pad because Funny Cide is now the stable pony for Barclay Tagg Racing Stable. He works every morning, and he is learning a new angle on racing.
Everywhere he goes, whether at Gulfstream in Florida this winter, at Belmont in New York now, or at Saratoga when he moves north in a few weeks, everyone knows his name.
No one’s forgotten him and the thrill of the ultimate underdog winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 2003. Funny Cide is a good news story for the troubled sport of racing. He’s sound. He’s healthy. And he’s in full view, out in front of the public, where a champion can do some good.
We need you now, Funny Cide! Keep doing what you’re doing!