11/11/2011 4:04PM

Aqueduct: The Funky Express, Lady On the Run heavy favorites in New York Stallion stakes

Fifth Avenue favorite The Funky Express owns two victories, including last month's Small Wonder at Delaware Park.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – New York-sired horses run early and often at Aqueduct on Sunday, with four New York Stallion Series races on tap.

The 2-year-olds run six furlongs for purses of $100,000 in the Fifth Avenue and Great White Way divisions, while 3-year-olds and up go seven furlongs for $75,000 in the Staten Island and Thunder Rumble divisions. The races are restricted to progeny of New York stallions.

The stakes action commences with the Fifth Avenue and Staten Island, the first two legs of the early pick four. They feature the two shortest-priced favorites of the day in The Funky Express and Lady On the Run, respectively.

The Funky Express will be odds-on in the Fifth Avenue, and appears ideally drawn on the outside in a short field of six. A daughter of Freud, The Funky Express is the only two-time winner in the lineup, having posted a pair of fast-paced victories for Gary Gullo, including a win in the Small Wonder Stakes at Delaware Park. She makes her first start for the Brooklyn Boyz Stable and Dominick Schettino.

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Lenders Way, third in the Joseph A. Gimma Stakes for Jim Ryerson, is a stretch threat. Recent maiden winners Dancin On the Sand, King of the Disco, Shea Goodbye, and Vicki’s Dancer round out the field.

Lady On the Run fell a neck short of catching Saltamontes in a second-level allowance recently, but the stretch-running filly – whose first win came in a New York Stallion race at Belmont in May – gets an additional furlong to work with for the rematch.

Bretton Woods, Blue Sixty Four, Page by Page, and the WellSpring Stable entry of Stellars Theory and Raffie’s Rose complete the field.

The Thunder Rumble is headed by the accomplished but vulnerable Inherit the Gold, who climbed the ladder to win five in a row at Aqueduct last winter and spring, capped by a win in the Grade 3 Excelsior by better than six lengths. The 5-year-old Thunder Rumble returned from a layoff in the Empire Classic and finished next-to-last as the second choice, beaten 15 lengths.

“I think it’s obvious he wasn’t quite ready for that race last time,” said trainer Jim Hooper. “I knew he was good and sound and we were sort of hoping for a miracle. He’s done it before, so we threw our hat in the ring.”

Inherit the Gold, who turns back from 1 1/8 miles, is 1 for 7 in one-turn races.

“He worked well the other day,” said Hooper. “We were trying to put a little speed into him because seven-eighths is a little short for him and we’re hoping there’s some pace he can run at.”

The likely pacesetter is Darrin’s Dilemma, who wired a New York Stallion sprint at Belmont in May for his former connections. Claimed two starts back by Gary Gullo, the 3-year-old has led early in all but one of eight starts this year.

Pretty Boy Freud is hard to gauge after winning the Corma Ray overnight stakes with a 99 Beyer Speed Figure for Leo O’Brien, and then finishing a distant last in the Hudson Stakes as the second choice. He is coupled with 2009 Thunder Rumble winner Uncle T Seven, now trained by Richard Metivier.

Four last-out maiden winners – three of them by Hook and Ladder and two of them fillies – are the logical contenders in the Great White Way, which drew a full field of 12.