06/13/2004 11:00PM

Funny Cide fit for Mass Cap


EAST BOSTON, Mass. - A field of six to nine horses led by Funny Cide is expected to be entered on Wednesday for the Grade 2, $500,000 Massachusetts Handicap on Saturday at Suffolk Downs

Funny Cide, the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner, worked out Sunday at Belmont Park, going five furlongs in 59.80 seconds under exercise rider and assistant trainer Robin Smullen.

"The work was good," said Funny Cide's trainer, Barclay Tagg. "I guess he's ready. He's fit and doing fine."

Funny Cide was assigned 117 pounds for the 1 1/8-mile race, three pounds more than rivals Bowman's Band and Evening Attire. Both of them are expected to ship from New York for the race. Bowman's Band exits a strong second to Pico Central in the Met Mile. Evening Attire ran second in the 2002 Mass Cap behind Macho Uno.

The pace is expected to be strong with Gygistar, Rogue Agent, and The Lady's Groom in the field. Gygistar won the Grade 1 King's Bishop Stakes at six furlongs as a 3-year-old and has been sprinting for trainer Mark Hennig throughout his career.

"I am hopefully confident he will handle the added distance," said Hennig, who will name Joe Bravo to ride. "He has never been around two turns, but I think he will relax in the race and run back to some of his better performances this year."

Rogue Agent won an allowance race impressively in his last start, for trainer Mike Brice, who offered a warning to other would-be speed horses in the Mass Cap.

"Horses that have been going head-and-head with him have been getting beat 15 to 20 lengths," said Brice. "We're only getting beat by a length or two. If Gygistar goes with him early, he will get buried, too."

Jorge Chavez, who won the 2000 Mass Cap with Behrens, will ride Rogue Agent.

Trainer Richard Dutrow has already shipped Offlee Wild to Suffolk, trying to get the Azalea Stables runner to turn things around. Offlee Wild finished well behind Funny Cide in the Kentucky Derby last year.

* Also on Suffolk's Saturday card is the $200,000 James Moseley Breeders' Cup Handicap, with defending champion Peeping Tom back to face last year's runner-up, My Cousin Matt. Valid Video will also be one of the favorites, shipping up from New Jersey. There will be two other stakes, with a pick four wager added to the program.