08/07/2003 11:00PM

Funny Cide back on track


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Funny Cide, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, returned to the track Friday morning for the first time since finishing third in last Sunday's Grade 1 Haskell Invitational. Funny Cide jogged once around Saratoga's fast main track as his connections try to get him healthy enough for a possible showdown with Empire Maker in the Grade 1 Travers on Aug. 23.

"He was really on the muscle," trainer Barclay Tagg said. "I don't know if that's a good sign or not. It was his first day out so it's hard to tell if he was on the muscle because he was feeling good or he's on the muscle because he's unnerved. I had to do something with him if I'm going to run him in the Travers. I can't keep him in the stall for two weeks.''

Friday was also the first full day Funny Cide was taken off medication. He had been put on antibiotics on Monday after developing a 102-degree temperature and had a closed right eye, presumably due to being hit with dirt in the Haskell. Tagg said he would take a blood test on Funny Cide Friday to get a line on how the gelding is doing off medication. Tagg hoped to give Funny Cide a more vigorous exercise on Saturday morning.

Tagg was asked if he would even be thinking about getting Funny Cide ready for a race on Aug. 23 if it were not the Travers.

"Absolutely not,'' he said. "If I was in my right mind I wouldn't even think about the Travers. It's the last million-dollar 3-year-old race, it's the most historical race in America. I think it's the oldest stakes race [for 3-year-olds] in America. Is that important? Everybody that owns him is here, which is never the case when you run him somewhere else. I'm sure NYRA would like him to run. They're the ones that issue me stalls. I can run this horse for another five or six years; if the Travers kills him I won't be able to run him at all.''

Alabama contenders breeze

Three of the expected six participants for next Saturday's Alabama Stakes put in workouts Friday morning, an atypical day when both the main and training tracks were dry and fast.

Bird Town, winner of the Kentucky Oaks and Acorn, worked five furlongs in 1:01.41 under exercise rider Maxine Correa over the Oklahoma training track.

"She worked really good,'' trainer Nick Zito said. "I got her last quarter in 23 and change; she was just unbelievable. I got her second-to-last eighth in 11 and 1. She's more than ready. I just hope everything works out okay. I hope she has a great week next week and she runs her usual great race.''

On the main track, Fircroft, runner-up to Spoken Fur in the Coaching Club American Oaks at 1 1/2 miles, worked five furlongs in 1:00.71 under jockey Jean-Luc Samyn.

"I thought she went excellent," trainer Rusty Arnold said. "She's done well up here. You always worry how they handle the mile and a half, and the first few days she was knocked out. But she's progressively come around.''

Also on the main track, Awesome Humor, last year's Spinaway winner, worked five furlongs in 59.16 seconds in company with Fly Borboleta. Trainer Elliott Walden had Fly Borboleta work behind Awesome Humor because, "On her own, [Awesome Humor] tends to be a little bit lazy so we gave her something to chase her along.''

Spoken Fur will be going for a $2 million bonus if she adds the Alabama to her victories in the Mother Goose and Coaching Club. Island Fashion and Savedbythelight are also expected to run.

Biancone juveniles gear up

Trainer Patrick Biancone, who was a major player in juvenile stakes races here a year ago, will send out two of his best 2-year-olds in Monday's Adirondack Stakes for fillies and Wednesday's Saratoga Special for colts.

In the Grade 2, $150,000 Adirondack, Biancone will send out Whoopi Cat, a six-length maiden winner on July 11 at Belmont Park. Since that race, Whoopi Cat, a daughter of Tale of the Cat, has been sold by Richard Giacopelli to Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith. Biancone remains the trainer.

Friday, Whoopi Cat worked five furlongs in 59.87 seconds over Saratoga's main track. Though she was sent off at odds of 9-1 in her debut, Whoopi Cat's dominant win was no surprise to Biancone.

"She did what we were expecting her to do,'' Biancone said. "She's a very talented filly. She did it the proper way.''

The Adirondack, run at 6 1/2 furlongs, is expected to include Eye Dazzler, Lokoya, One Smart Lady, Unbridled Beauty, and Wild Berry.

Also on Friday, Biancone sent out Pomeroy for a five-furlong workout in 1:01.05 over the main track. Pomeroy, a son of Boundary, has won his first two starts, including an 11 1/2-length allowance win at Monmouth Park. He covered 5 1/2 furlongs that day in 1:03.24 after stumbling at the start.

"It was important: I wanted to get him two starts,'' Biancone said. "We'll see exactly how good he is. He grabbed his quarter, but not badly. He just missed a few days. He's a very healthy horse.''

Last year, Biancone won the Sanford with Whywhywhy and the Saratoga Special with Zavata. Biancone said Pomeroy could be even better than those two.

Also expected to run in the $150,000 Saratoga Special are Cuvee, El Prado Rob, Heckle, Limehouse, Old Kent Road, Tequesta, and Toin and Boin.

Meanwhile, Biancone confirmed that Zavata, the winner of the Amsterdam Stakes, will run in the Grade 1 King's Bishop on Travers Day. Biancone said Stellar, last year's Adirondack runner-up and recent entry-level allowance winner, could run next in the Grade 1 Ballerina.

Sellers passes kidney stone

Jockey Shane Sellers was hoping to enjoy a family day Tuesday at Yankee Stadium, but he never saw a pitch.

When Sellers walked through the gates, he headed right to the first-aid station. Shortly thereafter, he was at a hospital in Harlem, where he was diagnosed with a kidney stone. After receiving a shot, Sellers and his family returned to Saratoga in the early hours Wednesday morning. Sellers eventually passed the stone on Wednesday afternoon. He took off his mounts on both Wednesday and Thursday and returned to riding Friday.

"They brought me to a hospital in Harlem,'' Sellers said. "I was begging for God and pain medication. I never had a kidney stone before, and I don't want another one.''