04/28/2005 11:00PM

Funny Cide toting big load

Funny Cide will carry 127 pounds in the Kings Point Handicap, his 2005 debut after a winter in Florida.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - It's not every day that a Kentucky Derby winner turns up in a New York-bred stakes at Aqueduct.

But then, Funny Cide has made a career of doing the unexpected.

The chestnut gelding, who gained legions of fans with his dramatic assault on the 2003 Triple Crown, makes his 5-year-old debut Sunday at the Big A in the $75,000-added Kings Point Handicap at 1 1/8 miles.

It will be his first race against statebreds since winning the Sleepy Hollow Stakes at Belmont Park in the final start of an unbeaten 2-year-old season.

was 1-5 in the Sleepy Hollow. The price probably will not be much higher in the Kings Point.

With Grade 1 victories in the Derby, the Preakness, and the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Funny Cide holds an immense class edge on four rivals.

"There are always some good ones in most every race," said trainer Allen Jerkens, who sends out the Empire Classic Handicap winner, Spite the Devil. "They put quite a lot of weight on him. If he wins, good luck to him. If we could finish in the money, we'd be happy."

The topic of weight is a touchy one for Barclay Tagg, Funny Cide's trainer. Tagg was looking forward to the Kings Point until he got the weight assignment.

Funny Cide will carry a career-high 127 pounds, spotting rivals eight to 11 pounds.

"If he wins, they'll hold it against him the rest of the year," Tagg said. "If he doesn't win, it will be because of too much weight on him."

Richard Dutrow, Jr., the Big A's leading trainer, appreciated the wide spread. The Dutrow-trained Yankee Mon, a winner of consecutive allowance races, will carry 116.

"I didn't think they should have given Funny Cide 127 pounds, but I'm glad they did," Dutrow said. "I think Funny Cide's got his work cut out. He's carrying a lot of weight coming off a long layoff. Getting all that weight coming off two sharp efforts, I've got to like my chances."

Body weight rather than saddle-pad lead could also play a factor. The Funny Cide who steps onto the track Sunday will be a more muscular, fully mature racehorse.

"At the moment he's a little bit heavier than we'd like," said Robin Smullen, Tagg's assistant trainer who gallops Funny Cide in the morning. "Like Barclay says, he'll lose it fast enough."

Smullen expects Funny Cide's fans to be surprised at the gelding's more robust look.

"He's certainly changed," Smullen said. "He's gotten massive. His neck's heavier and he's really filled out in the chest. He's a lot bigger now."

The Kings Point, according to Smullen, is only a prep for the first of three major targets for the year: the Grade 1 Pimlico Special on May 20.

The longer range goals come in the fall at Belmont: the Jockey Club Gold Cup and the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Chowder's First and Rogue Agent complete the Kings Point field.