07/14/2003 11:00PM

Funny Cide drills, on target for Haskell

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Tuesday at Belmont Park, Funny Cide had his first serious workout since competing in the Triple Crown.

With exercise rider Robin Smullen in the saddle, Funny Cide worked five furlongs in 58.69 seconds, breezing, over a fast track. The move, which took place at 5:30 a.m., was the third-fastest of 20 works at the distance. According to the Belmont clockers, the gelding completed his first quarter-mile in 23.35 and ran the first three furlongs 35.02. Funny Cide galloped out six furlongs in 1:11.89.

Funny Cide, who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness before finishing third in the Belmont Stakes, has shown a tendency to become headstrong in his works and gallops. Smullen said he was perfectly relaxed Tuesday.

"It was a brilliant work," Smullen said. "To get a first quarter in 23 with him - you can't ask for anything better."

Barclay Tagg, Funny Cide's trainer, said, "He did it perfectly."

Smullen said Funny Cide wore a snaffle bit in the work. For his Triple Crown campaign, he was equipped with a Houghton bit, a more restrictive piece of equipment that provides the rider with more control.

Tagg plans on two or three more works for Funny Cide before the $1 million Haskell at Monmouth Park Aug. 3. Funny Cide will work once more at Belmont, before shipping to Saratoga July 22.

In his first recorded work since the Belmont Stakes June 7, Funny Cide stretched his legs in a half-mile move in 51.25 seconds July 7.

Tagg said Funny Cide never showed any ill effects from the rigors of the Triple Crown.

"Four days [after the Belmont] he was right back where he was going into the race," Tagg said. "Of course, you have to give him the time to make sure."

Dress to Thrill able to alter plan

Trainer Christophe Clement said everything went wrong Saturday for Dress to Thrill, the odds-on favorite in the $200,000 All Along Breeders' Cup at Colonial Downs, and yet the filly still managed to win.

Dress to Thrill broke through the starting gate before the start and dropped jockey Edgar Prado. She was quickly caught and reloaded. Clement said that because of all the excitement, Dress to Thrill was eager at the start of the race and broke on top when the gates opened. After setting the pace, Dress to Thrill held off Lady Linda for a half-length win.

"Nothing went according to plan but the good thing was, she won," Clement said Tuesday. "She was probably sharper after what happened, so she went to the lead. I think she is a better filly coming from behind."

Clement said the $500,000 Diana at Saratoga July 26 might be too quick of a return for Dress to Thrill, who won the Grade 1 Matriarch at Hollywood Park last year. He also will consider for Dress to Thrill's next start the $200,000 Ballston Spa Breeders' Cup Handicap at Saratoga Aug. 23 and the $700,000 Beverly D. at Arlington Park Aug. 16.

Spa open house Sunday

Saratoga's 23rd annual open house is scheduled for Sunday, three days before the meet opens Wednesday.

The open house, which will begin at 11 a.m. and conclude at 4 p.m., is free to the public. The main events include the Newman E. Wait Jr. Trial races and several steeplechase races. All the exhibition races are non-wagering events.

Handicapping seminars are scheduled throughout the day, including one hosted by Brian Pochman of the Daily Racing Form. There will be several activities geared to children, including a circus, pony rides, and a petting zoo.