04/03/2007 11:00PM

Funny Cide makes his Polytrack debut

Email

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Funny Cide has had 34 races in his storybook career, including one that brought him racing immortality - a victory in the 2003 Kentucky Derby. None of those starts were on any surface other than dirt.

His 35th start, however, will mark a change for Funny Cide. The 7-year-old gelding is one of 12 older horses entered in the eighth race on the Friday opener at Keeneland, a $67,000 allowance to be run at 1 1/16 miles over Polytrack.

"We tried him on grass a couple of times in the morning and he never really seemed to like it, although that was in the spring at Belmont Park when the course tends to have a lot of moisture in it," said trainer Barclay Tagg. "We thought we might be better off running him on the grass at Gulfstream during the winter when the course is harder, but one thing or another always kept us from giving it a try."

Funny Cide, owned by Sackatoga Stable, hasn't raced since Oct. 21, when he finished fourth against fellow New York-breds in the Empire Classic at Belmont Park. Tagg said he then gave the gelding a few months off "because there was nowhere else to run, and I haven't really given him a break like that his whole career."

While Funny Cide progressed at Gulfstream toward a comeback race, Tagg said, "the owners and I talked it over and we agreed that Polytrack might be worth looking into."

Tagg said the results of the Friday allowance will determine whether to stay on Polytrack for the next race, which would be the April 26 Ben Ali Stakes.

"But if he doesn't run well, then we might just go ahead and try him later in the meet on the grass, or I might just bring him home to New York," said Tagg.

Funny Cide has been overseen by Tagg's longtime assistant, Robin Smullen, since arriving at Keeneland last weekend. With the weather having turned considerably cool in Lexington as of Tuesday night, the gelding is happy to have left Florida, said Tagg.

"Robin said he's handling the track just fine, and he's loving that weather," Tagg said. "We're not going in with any excuses."

Funny Cide, with Cornelio Velasquez riding from post 4, is listed on the program as the 4-1 favorite in what shapes up as an exceptionally competitive race. Seven of his 11 opponents are listed between 5-1 and 8-1 on the morning line.

Borel works Street Sense

Jockey Calvin Borel was in from Oaklawn Park to breeze one of the Derby favorites, Street Sense, Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs in Louisville. Working after the regular harrow break at about 8:30 a.m., Street Sense went five furlongs in 58.40 seconds, the fastest of six works at the distance. The track was rated fast after drying out from overnight rains.

"I loved it," said trainer Carl Nafzger. "It was a really good work. I caught him galloping out in 12 flat. Calvin was very happy with him and said the colt did everything the right way. He got down the lane good and easy without Calvin asking him to really do much."

Street Sense, the reigning 2-year-old champion and a winner of his season debut, the March 17 Tampa Bay Derby, is the likely favorite for the $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes on April 14. Nafzger has tentatively scheduled a final prerace work at Churchill on Monday with Borel aboard.

In other Blue Grass news, the fact that Any Given Saturday has defected from the field in favor of the Wood Memorial on Saturday has not had an effect on the Hard Spun camp. Trainer Larry Jones said Wednesday that he still is not going to make a decision on whether to run Hard Spun in the Blue Grass until after the colt works Tuesday over the Polytrack at Keeneland.

"We're leaving every option open, and we're not going to have anything set in concrete until after the work," said Jones. "Actually, the colt is doing great right now, so there's no reason not to run in the Blue Grass."

Heavy TVG coverage at Keeneland

Television Games Network recently announced in a press release that it is expanding its coverage of the spring meet at Keeneland. TVG not only will have anchors at Keeneland throughout each day of racing, but also regular programming such as "Blinkers On," ":58 Flat," "Racing Roundtable," and "All Access" will originate directly from Keeneland.

TVG also will broadcast "The Works," but this time, instead of focusing on the Kentucky Derby and Oaks, the show will concentrate on runners in the Blue Grass. The show is scheduled for April 13 at 6 p.m. Eastern.

Of course, TVG formerly broadcast "The Works" throughout Derby week from Churchill, but no more. With Churchill having become a partner in Horse Racing Television (HRTV), the prominence of TVG soon will diminish substantially on the Kentucky circuit, conspicuously when racing moves to Churchill on April 28.

Octave vs. Mistical Plan in Ashland

Octave and Mistical Plan are among nine 3-year-old fillies entered in the first Grade 1 race of the meet, the $500,000 Ashland Stakes on Saturday. Octave, the runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies last fall, will have Garrett Gomez aboard when breaking from post 5, while Mistical Plan, a dominating winner of the Fair Grounds Oaks in her last start, will be ridden by Robby Albarado when leaving from post 2.

From the rail out, this is the field for the 70th Ashland, a 1 1/16-mile race being run for the first time on Polytrack: Elitist, Mistical Plan, Dawn After Dawn, Grace Happens, Octave, Christmas Kid, Hucking Hot, High Again, and Silver Knockers.

Potts confident in Lure My Daisy

Trainer Carl Potts knows Lure My Daisy will be a huge longshot on Friday in the featured Transylvania Stakes. After all, Lure My Daisy is a maiden who will be surrounded by accomplished turf horses, including Sedgefield.

But Potts believes Lure My Daisy will enter and exit the race with this one distinguishing characteristic: "He's the last foal by Lure," said Potts.

Indeed, Lure was plagued by major fertility problems throughout his abbreviated stud career, and only a handful of his offspring are still racing in North America, and Lure My Daisy is the youngest.

* Opening day at Keeneland also is College Scholarship Day, and 10 scholarships will be raffled off throughout the day. The semi-annual promotion is co-sponsored by Keeneland and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, and it typically draws several thousand registered entries.

* There will be no racing Sunday at Keeneland because of the Easter holiday. Racing will resume Wednesday after a three-day break.