09/20/2009 11:00PM

D' Funnybone eyes Champagne

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
D' Funnybone, winner of the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont, may go next in the Champagne.

ELMONT, N.Y. - While owner Paul Pompa Jr. said his ultimate goal with D' Funnybone is to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, the horse came out of his dominant victory in Saturday's at Belmont Park so well that he could run back in the Grade 1 Champagne here Oct. 11.

"He came out so fresh that the Champagne is definitely an option," Pompa said by phone Monday from his Truck-Rite office in Brooklyn. "Our ultimate goal is to win the Breeders' Cup, but he's so fresh and so lightly raced, if we want to get to the Champagne, he's in the right kind of shape for it."

D' Funnybone, trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., cruised to a 4 3/4-length victory over Discreetly Mine in the $250,000 Futurity, running seven furlongs under Edgar Prado in 1:22.40 and earning a 93 Beyer Speed Figure. He added the Futurity to his 10 1/4-length victory in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special last month at Saratoga.

Pompa said he doesn't feel that running in the Champagne would inhibit D' Funnybone from running back in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, which will be run over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface on Nov. 7.

"We do have the option to go to both of them, if he comes out of the Champagne the right way," Pompa said. "He really didn't have to exert himself [in the Futurity]. I don't think we've gotten to the bottom of this horse yet. Edgar just waved the whip at him, I don't think he hit him once. That's very, very encouraging. It's a good position to be in."

Pompa also is in a good position. For if he elects not to run D' Funnybone in the Champagne, he could run Condemned, a 2-year-old son of Speightstown who won a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race by 4 3/4 lengths Saturday, while earning an 82 Beyer. Condemned, trained by Todd Pletcher, will be nominated to the Champagne, Pompa said.

Gio Ponti likely to run in Joe Hirsch

Barring extremely wet conditions in New York, Gio Ponti, the leading male turf horse in North America, will make his next start in the Grade 1, $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational here Oct. 3, trainer Christophe Clement said Monday.

Clement had previously said that he was between the Joe Hirsch and the $300,000 Clement Hirsch at Santa Anita on Oct. 11.

"As of now, I'm going to aim him at the Joe Hirsch," Clement said. "He's training here, he's done very well in New York. Unless the turf is a total bog, you should probably run here."

Gio Ponti is 4 for 5 at Belmont on turf, including wins this year in the Manhattan and Man o' War, part of the horse's current four-race winning streak - all Grade 1's.

Another reason Clement likes the Joe Hirsch is that the race is weight-for-age, meaning all older horses carry 126 pounds, while 3-year-olds carry 121. Horses from the initial list of invitees who are expected to run in the Joe Hirsch are Al Khali, Better Talk Now, Casual Conquest, Grand Couturier, Presious Passion, and possibly Take the Points. Al Khali and Take the Points are 3-year-olds.

On Monday, Gio Ponti worked five furlongs in 1:04.55 over Belmont's inner turf course. Clement said the final time was slower than he wanted in part because his exercise rider was "too conservative" early on. The first quarter was 27.80 seconds, but his last quarter went in 23.75.

Vineyard Haven possible for De Francis Dash

In an effort to keep their talented 3-year-olds apart, Godolphin Stable may send Vineyard Haven to the Grade 1, $300,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park on Oct.o24, assistant trainer Rick Mettee said Monday.

Vineyard Haven was disqualified from first and placed second in the Grade 1 King's Bishop at Saratoga on Aug. 29. While the Grade 2 Jerome on Oct. 11 would be a good spot for him, Godolphin is already targeting that race with Girolamo. Mettee said the De Francis, run at six furlongs and two weeks before the Breeders' Cup Sprint, might be a good way for Vineyard Haven to prep for the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 28.

Mettee said no plans have been finalized for Midshipman's next start. Midshipman came off an 11-month layoff to win a rapidly run, 6 1/2-furlong allowance race by 3 1/4 lengths last Friday. Mettee did not rule out the possibility of Midshipman being sent out to Southern California the first week of October to prepare for a possible start in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile on Nov. 7. Midshipman won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface last year.

On or about Oct. 6, Godolphin plans to send a string of horses to Southern California that includes Gayego, who is being pointed to the Grade 1 Ancient Title on Oct. 11; and Seventh Street, who will make her next start in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint on Nov. 6.

Fateh Field will run Wednesday

Godolphin's Fateh Field, who was disqualified from first and ordered unplaced in the order of finish from a first-level allowance race at Belmont last Thursday, is entered back and will run in a second-level allowance here Wednesday. That race, like the race he won, is at seven furlongs on the turf.

New York stewards were forced to disqualify Fateh Field after learning from officials at Presque Isle Downs that the horse had been placed on the vet's list by that track's veterinarian after he had finished second in a six-furlong race over the Tapeta surface on Sept. 12. The horse was entered Sept. 13 for the race on Sept. 17 and there was no indication a problem existed. Typically, horses placed on a vet's list may not run for a minimum of seven days.

Mettee said he was never informed by Presque Isle officials of the horse being placed on the vet's list, though he was told something was sent to him in the mail. The horse was removed from the list by a New York state veterinarian who observed the horse cooling out at the test barn following his win last Thursday.

Mettee said the reason for running the horse so frequently is because he doesn't like to train. Mettee said he shipped the horse to Presque Isle because races he was entering him for here did not fill, and his stablemate Flashing was running the same night in the Presque Isle Masters.

Mettee said the next first-level allowance race is at six furlongs and he prefers seven.

"We think it's the right thing to do," Mettee said.

* Gone Astray, the Pennsylvania Derby winner, worked four furlongs in 47.82 seconds Monday morning, equaling the fastest time of 44 works at the distance. Shug McGaughey, trainer of Gone Astray, said his first choice of races for his horse is the $500,000 Indiana Derby on Oct. 3.