Updated on 09/17/2011 11:34AM

Funny Cide a walking advertisement


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Funny Cide's quest for the Triple Crown has generated some new publicity for Thoroughbred ownership, and that has partnership managers and breeders' organizations reaping the benefits.

Triple Crown media coverage frequently has highlighted the fact that Funny Cide is owned by a 10-man partnership from New York that bought their future Derby winner for $75,000.

Terry Finley, for one, is thankful for that coverage. Finley, whose West Point Thoroughbreds puts together racing syndicates and partnerships, said his business has gotten a boost from Funny Cide's success.

"This is the time of year we bring out our new class and get new people into the business anyway, but we certainly have seen an uptick since Derby Day," he said. "It definitely has pushed some of the people on the fringe, those who were kind of looking into getting involved, over to putting a horse in their portfolio now."

Finley said he's getting more phone calls from potential investors since the Derby and Preakness, and noted that the coverage has dovetailed well with his own advertising around the Triple Crown.

The phone is also ringing at the New York Thoroughbred Breeders office in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where New York-bred Funny Cide and his upstate owners are local heroes.

NYTB executive director Dennis Brida noted that New York's breeding industry has been on an upswing for several years, but Funny Cide has given it more publicity.

"Our phone has been ringing off the wall," Brida said. "The Monday after the Preakness, we got six or seven new members just that morning. And things like that are happening every day.

"It's been a growth process over the last several years, but Funny Cide has heightened the awareness."

So has Jose Santos, who shouted the motto, "New York-breds! Get with the program!" after both the Derby and the Preakness.

"We could have paid $1 million and not gotten than kind of coverage," Brida said.

Not surprisingly, the NYTB plans to honor Funny Cide's connections at its annual meeting June 8, and Santos will be made an honorary member of the NYTB, which is enjoying an all-time high membership of about 800 members.

Two national organizations, the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and The Greatest Game, attribute some added interest to Funny Cide, but they also cite advertising in USA Today. TOBA did add Funny Cide's managing partner, Jack Knowlton, to its list of speakers at a pre-Preakness ownership seminar.

"We've gotten about five calls a day from people interested in owning Thoroughbreds," said TOBA's Gay Fisher. "We don't usually get calls like that. We had one or two who mentioned Funny Cide.

"The attitude of his owners and their support of the sport have made a positive impact on the industry," she added.

West Point's Finley agrees wholeheartedly. "I don't know those guys," he said, "but I can only say, 'Thank you.' "

Exhibit honors Eclipse

An exhibition at Lexington's Kentucky Horse Park features an unusual piece of racing history. The exhibition, called "All the Queen's Horses: The Role of the Horse in British History," contains a framed piece of the great racehorse Eclipse's skin.

Eclipse, foaled in 1764, raced in 1769-70 and was undefeated in his 18 career starts before becoming one of his era's leading sires. Beginning in the late 1780's, he stood at Cannons Stud in Middlesex, England, where he died of colic in 1789.

The exhibited piece of skin and chestnut hair is about an inch high and three inches across. It's framed with an 1846 letter from R. W. Pitman, who got the skin from Cannons Park's then-owner, Lt. Col. Andrew Denis O'Kelly, in 1810.

"The stuffed skin of Eclipse at that time stood in a loft near the stables, but the stitches had broken in many places, and, as no care was taken to repair it, I dare say it has since been destroyed," Pitman wrote.

Pitman's piece of Eclipse has passed through many hands since, ending finally with Lord Rosebery, who donated it to the National Horseracing Museum in Newmarket, England.