04/07/2005 11:00PM

Funny Cide targets New York-breds

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Funny Cide was scheduled to have his final local work here Saturday, weather permitting, before shipping to New York on Sunday. The star of the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness has not started since finishing 10th in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Trainer Barclay Tagg said, if all goes well, Funny Cide will make his much anticipated 2005 debut at Aqueduct against fellow New York-breds in the Kings Point Handicap on May 1.

"I'd like to get one more work into him but if he's doing okay I'll run him," said Tagg. "It's just some place to start him out. He's doing great and really muscled out here this winter, and the time off he's had should do him good later in the year."

Tagg has targeted the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Breeders' Cup, both at Belmont, as his main goals this year.

Bravo, Joe!

While most of his northern-based colleagues have already left town, jockey Joe Bravo is in no hurry to leave the warm weather behind. Especially not after winning three races on Thursday's program, each of those victories coming on the turf.

"I'm planning on staying down here until May 1," Bravo said, shortly after riding Conservation to victory for trainer Richard Dutrow in Friday's opener. "Monmouth Park doesn't open until May 14, so I'll just take my time and relax before heading home for what hopefully will be another big year in New Jersey."

Bravo has had a big winter in Florida. His latest surge gave him 37 wins for the meet, putting him in eighth place in the standings. He is also the third-leading rider on the new grass course here this season with 17 turf victories.

"The first secret to having success on the turf is to ride good horses for good grass trainers," Bravo said. "I also learned that patience was a virtue, especially when riding grass races. Horses seem to finish a lot stronger on grass, so if you have enough patience to sit back and wait and get good position you're likely to do well on the turf."

Bravo said the best part of his winter to this point is the fact he's been able to stay healthy.

"I had a broken wrist, then a broken leg, and a broken back in three separate accidents up in New Jersey over the last several years," said Bravo. "But right now I'm riding in no pain, and it's great being healthy and feeling good again."

Bracho and Salgado here to stay

There have been a couple of new additions to the jockey colony here this week with the arrival of Richard Bracho and Felix Salgado - both of whom plan to stay on for the Calder meet, which opens later this month. Bracho suffered a leg injury in the opening week of the 2004 Monmouth meeting that sidelined him for the remainder of the year. He had won more than 50 races at the time of the injury last season.

Bracho's riding engagements will be handled by Kevin Meyocks, the son of former NYRA president Terry Meyocks and grandson of veteran agent Paul Blair, who handled the book of Hall of Fame jockey Earlie Fires for many years.

"I worked in the racing office at NYRA for four years, but being an agent was something I've always wanted to do," said the 23-year-old Meyocks. "I thought this was the right time, and Richard would be the right rider to start with."

Veteran agent Bernie Gonazalez, who teamed with the recently retired Rosemary Homeister Jr. for many years, has come out of retirement to take Salgado's book. Salgado recently came to this country from his native Panama, where he was among the leading jockeys at the time of his departure.

Fast Cookie drops into allowance

Fast Cookie returns to allowance company on Sunday for the first time since scoring a nine-length victory last May at Churchill Downs. Fast Cookie takes on six rivals in Sunday's $46,000 feature at 1 1/16 miles on the grass.

Fast Cookie, winner of the Grade 2 Cotillion Handicap on dirt at 3, won a division of the De La Rose Stakes on turf last summer at Saratoga, beating Snowdrops in the process. Fast Cookie ran second, a half-length behind Delta Princess, in the Tampa Bay Downs Endeavour Stakes in her only previous start this year.

Kate Winslet (a listed stakes winner in France), Brunilda, Stormy Kitty, and Mymich are among the other leading contenders in the race.