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Funny Cide jogs, Tagg thinks turf
ELMONT, N.Y. - Funny Cide took a big step toward a normal training routine on Thursday when he jogged once around Belmont Park's main track.
Funny Cide hasn't run since finishing third in the Haskell at Monmouth Park on Aug. 3. After the Haskell, Funny Cide had a fever. The results of a series of blood tests done on the gelding during the Saratoga meet weren't to trainer Barclay Tagg's satisfaction. Funny Cide was entered in the Travers on Aug. 23, but the day before the race he was scratched because mucus was detected in his trachea, and he hasn't trained since.
Tagg said that Funny Cide's latest blood test has shown considerable improvement.
"The white count is down where it belongs," Tagg said. "I'd like to see the red count lower, but it's all in the normal range."
Tagg is keeping all options open for the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner. He mentioned the possibility of Funny Cide making his grass debut in the $350,000 Kelso Breeders' Cup Handicap against older horses here Oct. 4, with an eye on the Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita Park on Oct. 26.
"Turf is a possibility; I don't see why he wouldn't run well on the turf," Tagg said. "We could run in the Kelso and back in the Breeders' Cup Mile. I might rather have a race against 3-year-olds going into the Breeders' Cup, but I'm not 100 percent sure I even want to go to the Breeders' Cup anyway."
No excuses for Dynever
Dynever, who finished a well-beaten sixth as the favorite in Monday's $750,000 Pennsylvania Derby at Philadelphia Park, came out of the race in good order, according to trainer Christophe Clement.
Clement said it was "bad luck" that the track condition changed from muddy to sloppy two races before the Pennsylvania Derby.
"He had a big wide move around the turn and flattened out," Clement said. "We live to fight another day."
That day could come in the $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 20, according to Clement.
Storm Flag Flying back to Shug soon
Storm Flag Flying, last year's champion 2-year-old filly, is expected back in trainer Shug McGaughey's Belmont barn in about 2 1/2 weeks.
McGaughey said Storm Flag Flying, who finished sixth as the favorite in the Acorn June 6 in her last start, has been jogging in a field at Miacomet Farm in Lexington, Ky., for the last 10 days.
Storm Flag Flying was given 60 days' rest after the Acorn because of a problem in both her hind legs. McGaughey said the legs were bruised and that the right leg had the beginnings of a tiny fracture.
"The back ankles are completely healed and she is going sound," McGaughey said. "Dr. [Larry] Bramlage wanted to re-evalaute her after another 30 days so we kept her down there."
McGaughey said that once Storm Flag Flying resumed training at Belmont, he would determine a timetable for her return to the races.
"It will be up to her," McGaughey said.
Darley buys Maple Syrple
Darley Stud has purchased the 2-year-old filly Maple Syrple from Team Valor Stable and Robert J. Wilson, and she has been transferred to the barn of New York-based trainer Tom Albertrani.
Maple Syrple, a Canadian-bred daughter of American Chance, won her first two starts, both at Woodbine and for trainer Mark Casse, including the restricted Clarendon Stakes. In her last start, she finished second behind the undefeated Ashado in the Grade 2 Schuylerville Stakes at Saratoga on July 23.
"She looked like a promising filly,'' Albertrani said. "Her second-place finish in the Schuylerville was impressive. She's an attractive looking filly who looks like she'll improve going longer.''
Maple Syrple is not nominated to the Grade 1 Matron on Sept. 14.
"We'll see how she's doing, get familiar with her,'' Albertrani said. "We have nothing picked out.''
Velasquez to ride at Belmont
Jockey Cornelio Velasquez, who is coming off a solid Saratoga meet with 21 winners, will stick around New York this fall, instead of heading home to Florida. His agent, Richard DePass, said Velasquez would remain in New York until the Keeneland meet opens on Oct. 3.
Velasquez picked up a couple of live mounts on Saturday at Belmont. He will ride Spoken Fur in the Grade 1 Gazelle for trainer Bobby Frankel and Deeliteful Irving for trainer Michael Dickinson in the Grade 1 Man o' War.
Velasquez finished fifth in the Saratoga standings. In addition to his 21 winners from 203 mounts, Velasquez had 19 seconds and 27 thirds and earnings of $1,023,677.
Seeking Daylight retired
Seeking Daylight, the 2002 Brooklyn Handicap winner, has been retired from racing, trainer Mark Hennig said.
A son of Seeking the Gold out of the mare Play All Day, Seeking Daylight is a half-brother to Grade 1 winner Hedonist and the stakes-winning Zaha. Seeking Daylight won 4 of 7 starts and earned $244,710 for owner-breeder Edward Evans.
Seeking Daylight raced twice as a 2-year-old before suffering a condylar fracture. He made it back to the races last year at 4, and raced five times, including an impressive 8 1/4-length score in the Grade 2 Brooklyn. Seeking Daylight suffered another condylar fracture while training for the Suburban last year.
He made it back to the workout tab earlier this summer, but the decision was made to stop and retire him to stud.
"We're not comfortable putting pressure on him to make it back,'' trainer Mark Hennig said. "Basically, it's in his best interests to stop. We feel he's got a great future as a stallion; he's from a great female family. Had he been able to stay together, there's no telling how good he could have been. The further they went the better he got.''
Hennig said there were no plans for Seeking Daylight's future.
Meanwhile, Hennig said that Gygistar, the third-place finisher in Sunday's Grade 1 Forego, came out of the race well and will be pointed to the Grade 1 Vosburgh here on Sept. 27.
"We weren't tickled with the trip he got,'' Hennig said. "We would have loved to have switched trips [with winner Aldebaran]. He did come out of it well, which is the most important thing, and we have big races to look forward to this fall.''
Keen to make Belmont debut
Trainer Dallas Keen, based primarily in the Midwest, will start his first horse at Belmont Park Sunday when he saddles Petionville Indeed in the Grade 1, $250,000 Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap for 3-year-old fillies on turf.
Petionville Indeed has won 2 of 4 starts, including the Lone Star Oaks on July 4. Keen had been pointing Petionville Indeed to a race at Ellis Park, but Petionville Indeed wrenched an ankle.
Keen said he was impressed with Petionville Indeed's victory in the Lone Star Oaks, because she got to wandering down the stretch after making the lead.
"She made the lead a little sooner than we wanted her to and still won by four," Keen said. "If she ran a straight line she probably wins by 10.''
Keen said Petionville Indeed worked a solid five furlongs at Ellis Park before she shipped to Belmont on Monday. Jeremy Beasley will ride Petionville Indeed in the Garden City.
The Garden City figures to attract a large European contingent, including Dimitrova, Acago, Baie, and Campsie Fells, as well as top U.S. fillies Sand Springs and Ocean Drive. Sarie Marias, Indy Five Hundred, and Andover Lady are also expected to run.
- additional reporting by David Grening