09/17/2009 11:00PM

D' Funnybone gets a vote of confidence

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Barbara D. Livingston
D' Funnybone, Edgar Prado up, romps in the Saratoga Special. Prado, who had ridden the colt in Florida, gave him a positive review to his current owners.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Choosing to ride a horse you just won a Grade 2 stakes on by 10 1/2 lengths over a horse who just won a maiden race by 6 1/4 lengths would seem to be an easy decision. For Edgar Prado, opting to ride Saratoga Special winner D' Funnybone over the regally bred Discreetly Mine in Saturday's Grade 2, $250,000 Futurity at Belmont Park was not so simple.

"Believe me, it was a very tough decision," Prado said Thursday morning, after galloping D' Funnybone over Belmont Park's main track. "I like that other horse, too. I was very impressed with the way he broke his maiden. He's bred to go all day on both sides. Very good-looking horse, and the way he did it when he broke his maiden I was impressed."

Of course, Prado has been equally impressed by D' Funnybone, who may have turned in the most impressive performance by any juvenile colt at Saratoga when he romped to victory in the Saratoga Special on Aug. 20.

D' Funnybone and Discreetly Mine - who will be ridden by Cornelio Velasquez - appear to be the two main players in the seven-furlong Futurity, one of three graded stakes on Belmont's 10-race card. Also on the program are the Grade 2, $250,000 Matron for juvenile fillies and the Grade 3, $100,000 Noble Damsel at one mile on the turf. The Futurity and Matron are the second and third legs of a pick-four wager that has a guaranteed pool of $350,000.

Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said that when it became apparent D' Funnybone could be purchased privately from south Florida connections, he immediately called Prado for an opinion. Prado had ridden D' Funnybone to a second-place finish in the Frank Gomez Stakes behind Jackson Bend - who has gone on to win two more stakes - and told Dutrow to buy the horse.

"What was amazing was he was kind of sick that day, because he was coughing a lot," Prado said. "In the post parade he coughed about 20 times, and to run that kind of race, I was impressed. He came back and he was still coughing. I said, 'Wow, what can he do when he's healthy?' "

Prado found out in the Saratoga Special. In his first start for Dutrow and owner Paul Pompa Jr., D' Funnybone broke sharply, then was reined by Prado when Tiny Woods gunned to the lead. D' Funnybone moved to Tiny Woods around the turn, took command turning for home and opened up under a busy Prado.

"I was impressed how quick he broke out of the gate and then I took a little hold and let [Tiny Woods] go by," Prado said. "Then I took him outside and he was there in three jumps; he was very athletic. At the end I kept riding because he kept pricking his ears."

Dutrow has been impressed with how D' Funnybone came out of the race and how he's training going into this assignment.

"He's ready to roll," Dutrow said.

Discreetly Mine is a half-brother to the Grade 1 winner Discreet Cat by the 2003 Horse of the Year, Mineshaft. He ran a good second to Bulls and Bears in his debut before finishing fourth to Dublin in a maiden race at Saratoga. Dublin came back to win the Hopeful. In his third start, Discreetly Mine rolled to a 6 1/4-length victory after he briefly rated off the next-out winner Gathering Cloud.

Though Discreetly Mine drew the rail for the third straight time, trainer Stanley Hough said he would like to see Discreetly Mine demonstrate rating tactics in this race under Velasquez. Hough, who trains Discreetly Mine for Joyce Robsham, said he understood Prado's decision to ride D' Funnybone.

"He didn't choose the horse based on ability," Hough said. "He seems to like this horse a lot, but won a stakes on the other one."

Successful Score comes into the Futurity with a convincing maiden score going seven furlongs at Saratoga, running in blinkers for the first time. Insightful was a well-beaten fourth in the Saratoga Special, but does own a maiden win at Belmont at the Futurity distance. Soundman, Hear Ye Hear Ye, Grand Rapport, and Thisskyhasnolimit complete the field.