08/09/2007 11:00PM

Fond farewell for Funny Cide


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The sight of Funny Cide standing alone on the Saratoga main track with fans packed along the apron from one end to the other and the sound of "Wind Beneath My Wings" blaring from the loudspeakers proved too much for Dave Mahan to take.

It was all part of a retirement party for Funny Cide thrown Friday at Saratoga by the New York Racing Association and the New York Thoroughbred Racing and Breeding program.

"I never thought this morning I'd be crying this afternoon, I really didn't," said Mahan, part of the Sackatoga Stable group which owned Funny Cide. "When he walked by me and they started playing the Bette Midler song, I just couldn't help myself. God, he looked so beautiful out there and the crowd clapping for him. . . . I didn't know what to expect today, but I didn't think it was this."

Funny Cide has been all about the unexpected. Purchased for $75,000, Funny Cide became the first New York-bred to win the Kentucky Derby in 2003. Funny Cide went on to win 11 of 38 career starts and bank $3,529,412. He was retired last month after winning the Wadsworth Memorial at Finger Lakes.

Funny Cide is now trainer Barclay Tagg's stable pony. Tagg's assistant, Robin Smullen, rode Funny Cide up and down the Saratoga stretch as the faithful crowd cheered and took pictures. Funny Cide led the post parade for Friday's fourth race - a maiden New York-bred event - and was then given a Granola bar/cookie in the shape of a Rolex watch.

Mahan and the other eight living members of Sackatoga Stable and jockey Jose Santos signed copies of a poster created by Daily Racing Form artist Peb. Conspicuous by his absence was Tagg, who did not appear during any part of the retirement ceremony.

Funny Cide's presence helped make the inclement weather more tolerable. The day's four scheduled turf races - including both stakes - were moved to the main track.

In the $84,050 Waya Stakes, moved from 1 1/2 miles on the turf to 1 3/16 miles on dirt, Nunnery ($7.70) took over from pacesetting Jade Queen at the five-sixteenths pole and then held off a challenge from Warrior Girl to win by a half-length. Nunnery, trained by Bill Mott and ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, covered the 1o3/16 miles in 1:59.89 over a muddy track.

The most interesting part of the Waya came before the race as a Mott stablehand had a hold of the lead shank, keeping Nunnery moving at all times before being loaded into the gate.

"She, every once in a while, decides to drop her rider, and when she wants to do it, she just does it," Mott said. "We're trying to figure out her routine, how to get her over to the gate and get her into the gate. Once we get her into the gate, it's no problem."

In the $87,000 Heed Stakes, run at seven furlongs on dirt after being scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the turf, Dorm Fever ($6.40) rallied from fourth place to beat Le Chateau by two lengths.

Also on the card, Minister's Bid ($6.50) turned back Hesanoldsalt to win a 1 1/8-mile allowance race by 1 1/2 lengths. Scoring his third straight victory, Minister's Bid ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.49.