05/03/2003 11:00PM

Funny Cide leaves for Belmont


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Funny Cide left Churchill Downs at 8:15 Sunday morning, bound for Belmont Park, where he trained leading up to his victory in Saturday's Kentucky Derby, and where he will train leading up to his next start, the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 17.

Funny Cide will face Peace Rules and several other Derby runners in the Preakness, but Empire Maker, the runner-up in the Derby, will likely not be among them. His trainer, Bobby Frankel, said the Derby favorite might wait for the Belmont Stakes, or even until Saratoga.

He said Sunday both colts "seem fine," and said they would travel to Belmont Park on Tuesday.

"I'm leaving for California tonight," Frankel said. "I'll see how they're doing when I get to New York next weekend."

Atswhatimtalknbout, who finished fourth, will bypass the Preakness but will definitely point for the June 7 Belmont Stakes, according to his trainer, Ron Ellis.

"I'll root for Funny Cide to win the Preakness. Then," Ellis said, laughing, "I'll break his heart in the Belmont."

Also awaiting the Belmont will be Ten Most Wanted, the Derby's second choice. He will return to California on Monday and train there until the Belmont, according to trainer Wally Dollase.

Other Derby runners expected to go on to the Preakness are Eye of the Tiger, Buddy Gil, Scrimshaw, Indian Express, and, perhaps, Domestic Dispute.