Updated on 09/17/2011 12:52PM

Act II of Funny Cide won't be as hectic

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Funny Cide, Jose Santos up, scores by five lengths in his 2004 debut. His trainer, Barclay Tagg, hopes to keep racing him for another four or five years.

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Barclay Tagg stood just outside Funny Cide's stall while accepting congratulations from several passersby during training hours at Palm Meadows on Sunday morning.

A day earlier, , the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner trained by Tagg, opened his 4-year-old campaign with an impressive five-length victory in a seven-furlong allowance race at Gulfstream Park.

"He seems to be doing fine today," said Tagg. "He really likes it up here and has come back to himself nicely now. He's a much fresher horse than when he ended his 3-year-old campaign. The race yesterday was just perfect. He was coming off two bad races, and I wanted something not going too far that he could probably win to get his confidence back and set him up for the Donn Handicap in 30 days. And everything went exactly as planned."

Although Saturday's victory was Funny Cide's first since the Preakness, Tagg said he never lost confidence in his star.

"I've never had my doubts about his ability," said Tagg. "I only worry about keeping him sound - the same way I worry about every horse in my barn."

Tagg was noncommittal about his plans for Funny Cide other than to rule out the Dubai World Cup as a possibility this spring. He said he was pointing the gelding to the Grade 1, $500,000 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream on Feb. 7.

"I'll aim him for the Donn, but it's not carved in stone," Tagg said. "If he trips once between now and then, I'm not going to run him. The New Orleans Handicap comes up three weeks later for the same purse. My main goals with this horse are to keep him healthy, keep him famous, pick my spots, try to earn as much money as we can, and run him for another four or five years if possible. He's a very sound gelding, but I won't race him in the kind of heat he ran in last year at the Haskell or on Breeders' Cup Day. If we get a heat wave like we had last summer, I'll probably knock it off during July and August."

Funny Cide, a son of Distorted Humor owned by Sackatoga Stable, is one of three finalists for an Eclipse Award in the 3-year-old division - along with his chief rival Empire Maker and Ten Most Wanted - and Tagg is hoping the vote will go his way.

"I've never had a champion and I don't know if I'll ever have another chance to have a champion, so I wouldn't mind winning," Tagg said. "That's what you work your whole life for out here. If winning the Eclipse means the horse who accomplished the most during the season, then he should be it. He won two classics.

"And if the Eclipse is a popularity contest, then he should win it, because he was certainly the most popular horse in racing last year."

Funny Cide wasn't the only big winner to come out of the Tagg barn on Saturday. Earlier in the day, Tagg sent out Bride's Best Boy to win a maiden special weight dash in his career debut. Bride's Best Boy, a 3-year-old son of Outflanker, was ridden by Edgar Prado.

"He's been doing everything nicely in the morning, and Edgar said after the race he's as nice a horse as he's ever sat on," Tagg said. "He didn't win like a champion Saturday, but he won, and it's always nice when they win the first time."

Tagg said he believes that Bride's Best Boy will ultimately handle two turns but that it was too early to start thinking about defending his Kentucky Derby title.

"I'm not ready to transcend the 3-year-old division with him just yet," Tagg said. "If he were to run back in a nonwinners-of-one and win big, I might think about the Fountain of Youth or Florida Derby. It's funny how 3-year-olds can mature this time of year, and one thing I learned last year is that you go through hell just to get them to the Derby. You've got to keep them fit and sound while running in three preps against the tops of the division. And sometimes it's a case of the last man standing who ends up winning."