10/04/2002 12:00AM

On the Funny Cide of life it's win-win

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Funny Cide, a 2-year-old New York-bred who won his stakes debut in last Sunday's $83,975 Bertram F. Bongard at Belmont Park, looks like a serious racehorse.

A son of Distorted Humor, Funny Cide, a gelding, won the restricted Bongard by nine lengths under a hand ride and stopped the clock for seven furlongs in 1:22.95, a stakes record. The 103 Beyer Speed Figure he earned for the win is tied for the highest Beyer by a 2-year-old this year, matching the figure set by Sky Mesa in the Grade 1 Hopeful.

In Funny Cide's previous start, his career debut, he won by

14 3/4 lengths against statebreds at Belmont on Sept. 8

Trained by Barclay Tagg and owned by Sackatoga Stable, Funny Cide will run next in the one-mile, $100,000 Sleepy Hollow Stakes on New York Showcase Day at Belmont, Oct. 19.

Tagg privately purchased Funny Cide for Sackatoga Stable earlier this year from Tony Everard, the owner of New Episode Training Center in Ocala, Fla. Everard had bought Funny Cide, who was bred by WinStar Farm LLC, for $22,000 last year at Fasig-Tipton's preferred sale in Saratoga Springs.

"I sent yearlings to Tony's and I was there watching them when [Funny Cide] caught my eye," Tagg said. "He was a good-looking, big horse and Tony said he was working good. One of the reasons I bought him was I thought he would be an early horse."

Funny Cide didn't make it to the races as early as Tagg had hoped because he bucked his shins.

When Funny Cide was ready to run, he was entered in a 12-horse maiden race, and drew the outside post. He won the six-furlong race in a romp.

The real test came 21 days later in the Bongard, which came up a very deep race with several promising runners in the field.

"You see so many horses win way off the first time and then if they are lucky enough to win their second race it's by [a smaller margin]," Tagg said. "But to gallop around there the way he did . . ."

After the Sleepy Hollow, a possible target for Funny Cide is the Great State Challenge at Sam Houston Race Park in Texas on Dec. 7. The Great State Challenge is a series of races that pits statebreds from around the country against each other.

During the winter, Tagg will take the gelding with him to Gulfstream Park.

"We'll look at open races and see if he is as good as he looks," Tagg said. "I don't think distance will be a problem from what I've seen. He's poised and confident and has a lovely way of traveling."

Sackatoga Stable comprises six friends who met in high school in Sackets Harbor, a western New York town on the banks of Lake Ontario, plus a couple of other partners.

Jackson Knowlton, Sackatoga Stable's managing partner, said he and his high-school buddies formed the partnership seven years ago by each putting up $5,000 to buy their first horse, Sacket's Six. The stable now has four horses, including Funny Cide, the ninth horse owned by the partnership, and two other New York-breds.

The 55-year-old Knowlton, who owns a health-care consulting business in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., said it's hard not to get pumped up about Funny Cide, Sackatoga Stable's first stakes winner.

"When a horse breaks his maiden by 14 3/4 lengths you get excited, but you say, 'Well, he didn't beat anything,' " he said. "Now, he ran away with a stakes. That was a big test and he passed it with flying colors."

Funny Cide, who was foaled at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, is out of Belle's Good Cide, a granddaughter of Seattle Slew. John Smicklas owns the mare, an Oklahoma-bred.

Funny Cide is the second foal out of Belle's Good Cide, who also has an unraced 3-year-old colt by Cozzene and a yearling filly by New York sire Personal Flag.

o The New York Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund will hold a board of director's meeting at the Gideon Putnam Hotel in Saratoga Springs on Oct. 17 in the morning.

Correction

o A New York breeding article on Aug. 25 about Storm Cadet and his sire, Storm of Angels, misstated the number of starters for Storm of Angels. He has 41 starters who have combined for 271 starts - not 271 starters.