10/19/2002 12:00AM

Funny Cide, at 1-5, overcomes trouble


ELMONT, N.Y. - He may not have been as impressive as in his first two starts, but Funny Cide remained unbeaten nonetheless Saturday at Belmont Park.

After being rated while racing between horses, Funny Cide found running room along the rail nearing the stretch and won the $100,000 Sleepy Hollow Stakes for New York-bred juveniles by a neck over a stubborn Spite the Devil. It was three lengths back to Go Rockin' Robin.

The Sleepy Hollow was one of seven races for New York-breds on Saturday, New York Showcase Day.

Unlike his first two races when he had things his own way, Funny Cide, the 1-5 favorite, had to work for this one. He was bumped at the break and boxed in down the backstretch. He slipped through a narrow opening along the rail and needed six cracks of Jose Santos's right-handed whip. Funny Cide covered the mile in 1:36.76 over a fast track and returned $2.40. Bridge jumpers leapt into the show pool to the tune of $545,862 out of $584,929 bet to show. The minus show pool was $88,415.

"I don't think he was 100 percent today," Santos said. "Physically, he's fine, but something is bugging him. He was not that aggressive today. They were on top of him today. He went through the little hole and that was it. I think it was a very brave race today."

Barclay Tagg, who trains Funny Cide for Sackatoga Stable, said there was a purpose to the way Santos rode the horse.

"I don't want him to learn to just go to the front and run, run, run all the time," Tagg said. "It made it look a little scary. At least he got it done, anyway."

Tagg said Funny Cide could run next in either the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct Nov. 30 or the Great State Challenge at Sam Houston Park on Dec. 7.