10/16/2002 11:00PM

Funny Cide no joke to competition

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Funny Cide is probably the most talked about 2-year-old who is not running in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

After Funny Cide earned a 103 Beyer Speed Figure for his win in the seven-furlong Bertram F. Bongard, some trainers would have marked the Breeders' Cup on their calendar.

Not Funny Cide's trainer, Barclay Tagg, who opted instead for Saturday's $100,000 Sleepy Hollow at Belmont Park against statebreds.

"You have to go with your gut in these kind of things," Tagg said. "And if he's as good as I think he is, I'm looking forward to some of the bigger races next year and there's plenty of $1 million races around next year."

Funny Cide will be a heavy favorite against five rivals in the mile Sleepy Hollow.

Sackatoga Stable privately purchased Funny Cide, a son of Distorted Humor, for $75,000 in the spring. The colt made his first start on Sept. 8 and annihilated a maiden field by 14 3/4 lengths. Twenty-one days later, Funny Cide bounded home a nine-length winner in the Bongard, covering the seven furlongs in a quick 1:22.95.

Funny Cide has had two sharp works since the Bongard, including a bullet half-mile in 46.51 seconds on Oct. 9.

Tagg said, "He has shown a lot of willingness [in his training], and he's shown that he's pretty ready to run." Jose Santos rides Funny Cide, who drew post 2.

Spite the Devil, second in the Bongard, takes another crack at Funny Cide. Spite the Devil's trainer, Allen Jerkens, has no illusions about beating Funny Cide if Funny Cide runs his race.

"Second money wouldn't be too bad, if we can get it," Jerkens said.

J.B. Hood, Go Rockin' Robin, Gallant Soldier, and Unbridled Drive complete the field.

Santos to go for juvenile double

Santos will look for a double in the other 2-year-old stakes on the card, the $100,000 Maid of the Mist.

Santos rides Joseph A. Gimma winner Beautiful America in the mile race for fillies, which drew 11 runners.

The biggest threat to Beautiful America could be an uncoupled entry sent out by trainer Todd Pletcher. Pletcher has entered Combanchera, a 4 1/4-length winner of a six-furlong maiden race on Sept. 18, and Blink Twice, who won her first start by the same margin on July 21 in a 5 1/2-furlong race.

Combanchera, a daughter of Seattle Slew, might be better suited to the mile than Blink Twice, who is a full sister to stakes-winning sprinter Jena Jena.

"The stretchout should be an easier jump for [Combanchera]," Pletcher said. "She's got the breeding and has trained like she wants to run longer."