08/11/2004 11:00PM

Funny Cide impresses in mile work


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Edgar Prado was a little late for his Thursday morning appointment with Funny Cide, but the two wound up being right on time when it came to a one-mile workout over Saratoga's main track.

For the third time in the last two weeks, Prado was aboard Funny Cide for a workout, this time guiding the 2003 Kentucky Der-by and Preakness winner through a one-mile move in 1:37.80. The move started at the five-furlong pole and went around two turns before ending at the six-furlong marker. Track clockers timed Funny Cide's splits in 23 seconds, 59.40, 1:12.40, 1:25, and caught him galloping out 1 1/8 miles in 1:52.

After the move, trainer Barclay Tagg confirmed that Prado would ride Funny Cide in the Grade 2, $250,000 Saratoga Breeders' Cup here Aug. 22. Prado subs for regular rider Jose Santos, who will not be recovered in time from a broken right arm.

Tagg said he worked Funny Cide a mile because he likes to do that with horses that are coming off a little freshening and that are going to run a distance of ground. The Saratoga Breeders' Cup is 1 1/4 miles. Tagg was extremely pleased with how well Funny Cide relaxed in his move.

"He went perfectly," Tagg said. "It was a very nice work. He went 12 [seconds], 12, 12, he let him relax, and then he really came back to him. He's a horse that you can't take a hold of his mouth too much."

On Aug. 6, Prado worked Funny Cide six furlongs in 1:12.40. Prado said he was much more impressed with Thursday's move.

Although Funny Cide was eager to run early in the breeze, "he relaxed on the turn, and that's what I really wanted," Prado said. "He finished good and galloped out strong. The other day when I worked him he showed one gear until he could run no faster, and that was it."

Santos targets Aug. 27 return

Santos, who had ridden Funny Cide in all but one of his prior 18 races, is hoping to begin riding Aug. 27, agent Mike Sellitto said. Santos has not ridden since breaking his arm July 23.

Santos visited his doctors on Long Island on Wednesday and was told the injury "is almost totally healed," Sellitto said. "He told him wait another week to start getting on horses and then you can ride. We picked the 27th, and he'll start getting on horses about a week before."

Sellitto said he hopes Santos could ride Passing Shot in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign if she runs in that race on the 27th. Passing Shot, with Santos up, upset odds-on favorite Wild Spirit in last year's Personal Ensign.

Celtic Sky heads West Point

Celtic Sky won the West Point Handicap in 2002, finished second in the race in 2003, and will try to win it again this year, when the West Point is run Sunday.

The West Point, at 1 1/8 miles on turf for New York-breds, is expected to have a large field, including Foreverness, Golden Commander, Irish Colonial, and Provincetown, who was scratched from a race Thursday in favor of the West Point.

"He'll run as long as it stays on the grass," Christophe Clement, who trains Celtic Sky, said Thursday morning. "If it comes off the grass, we'll have to go to Plan B. If it's soft, he will run, but I don't think he's as good on soft ground."

Clement said that Snowdrops, who closed strongly behind a slow pace to finish second in a division of Wednesday's De La Rose Handicap, will come back in either the Ballston Spa Breeders' Cup Handicap Aug. 30 or the Noble Damsel Handicap at Belmont Park on Sept. 25.

"The Nobel Damsel may be better because it is a flat mile and there should be a stronger pace," Clement said. "A faster pace will help. She had no racing luck yesterday."

Also under consideration for the Ballston Spa from Clement's barn are Where We Left Off, who won Sunday's Matchmaker Stakes at Monmouth Park, and Derrianne, who is training well for her first start in more than three months.

Dynever on summer vacation

The best horse in Clement's barn, Dynever, was given the summer off, but is ready to resume serious training with an eye on the major fall races. Clement said Dynever would have a workout in another week or so. Dynever is one of the few top-class horses with a previous victory at Lone Star Park, site of this year's Breeders' Cup. He won the Lone Star Derby in May 2003.

"I would guess he would run in the Woodward if everything goes well," Clement said. "To have a fresh horse for the fall is a good thing."

Tapit has throat surgery

Tapit, the Wood Memorial winner, underwent epiglottis surgery last weekend but could still make the Pennsylvania Derby on Labor Day, according to David Fiske, the racing manager for owner Ron Winchell.

"I saw the before, during, and after pictures of the surgery," Fiske said while at Saratoga on Thursday. "It was pretty apparent he needed it."

Weather plays chaos with pick six

As the horses were loading into the gate for Thursday's fourth race - the start of the pick six - it was announced that the sixth race would be taken off the turf. Those who wagered on the pick three and pick six had no time to cancel or change tickets.

The weather forecast was ominous and the Mellon Turf Course was so soft that two of the three races carded for that surface had already been moved to the dirt. Track superintendent Jerry Porcelli said that the New York Racing Association doesn't take races off the turf based on predicted forecasts, and waited until the rain began to recommend moving the sixth to the dirt.

"We're going to look bad no matter what we do,'' said Mike Lakow, NYRA's racing secretary. "If we took it off the turf and it didn't rain we were going to look like fools. This was bad timing more than anything else. It was not a bad decision.''

The start of the fourth race was not delayed so that bettors could cancel or alter pick three and pick six tickets. Bill Nader, the senior vice-president of the NYRA, said that would be corrected in the future.

Nader said that the NYRA had written a letter to the New York State Racing and Wagering Board in March requesting that races moved from the turf to the dirt in multiple-race wagers should be declared no contests for the purposes of said wager. The board never responded to the request. Nader said NYRA would re-visit that proposal in the future.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman