11/26/2008 1:00AM

Funny Cide heads to Ky. Horse Park


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Funny Cide, winner of the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness and that year's champion 3-year-old, will leave his current job as Barclay Tagg's stable pony and join the Kentucky Horse Park's Hall of Champions.

"The rigors of racing and training for several years have started to cause him mild discomfort recently as he continued working on a regular basis as my stable pony," Tagg said. "So now the time has come, as he is turning 9 years old, to really retire."

The park will host a welcome reception at the Hall of Champions on Dec. 5 at 2 p.m. The public is invited to the event, which is included with park admission.

Funny Cide will turn 9 on Jan. 1, 2009, the universal birthday for registered Thoroughbreds. He retired from racing in 2007.

Sackatoga Stables' Funny Cide became the first New York-bred ever to win the Kentucky Derby and the first gelding to do it since Clyde Van Dusen in 1929 when he crossed the Churchill Downs finish line in front of favorite Empire Maker five years ago. He went on to win the Preakness by nine lengths. He finished third behind Empire Maker in the Belmont, which was run over a sloppy track. But the loss didn't lessen his popularity with racing fans, who often saw him as a blue-collar runner that made it in the big time for his owners, a partnership of longtime friends from Sacketts Harbor and Saratoga Springs, N.Y., who traveled to the gelding's races in a school bus.

In addition to his Derby and Preakness, Funny Cide also scored victories in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup in 2004, the Excelsior Breeders' Cup Handicap at Aqueduct in 2004, and the Grade 3 Dominion Day Stakes at Woodbine in 2006. He retired as the richest New York-bred in history, with $3,529,412 in his bankroll from 11 wins - 9 of those in stakes company - in 38 lifetime starts.

WinStar Farm bred Funny Cide from the Slewacide mare Belle's Good Cide. McMahon Thoroughbreds of Saratoga raised the colt from birth, then sold him as a yearling at Fasig-Tipton's Saratoga preferred yearling sale in 2001. Sackatoga privately purchased him for $75,000 as a 2-year-old from Another Episode Farm in Florida.

"The 10 owners of Funny Cide are truly honored that the Kentucky Horse Park has invited him to reside in its Hall of Champions," said Sackatoga's managing partner, Jackson Knowlton. "We are pleased that his large fan base will have an opportunity to visit him at this wonderful facility not too far from his greatest triumph."

Funny Cide is the second Kentucky Derby winner to take up residence at the Hall of Champions this year. In October, 1987 Derby and Preakness winner Alysheba arrived from Saudi Arabia, where he had been standing at stud.