07/14/2003 11:00PM

Funny Cide works 5F at Belmont

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ELMONT, N.Y. - On Tuesday at Belmont Park, Funny Cide had his first serious work since competing in the Triple Crown.

With exercise rider Robin Smullen in the saddle, Funny Cide worked five furlongs in 58.69 seconds, breezing, over a fast track at 5:30 a.m. The move was the third-fastest of 20 works at the distance. According to the Belmont clockers, the gelding completed his first quarter in 23.35 seconds and followed with 35.02 for three furlongs. Funny Cide galloped out six furlongs in 1:11.89.

Funny Cide, who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness before finishing third in the Belmont Stakes, has shown the tendency to become headstrong in his works and gallops. Smullen said he was perfectly relaxed on Tuesday.

"It was a brilliant work," Smullen said. "To get a first quarter in 23 with him - you can't ask for anything better."

Barclay Tagg, Funny Cide's trainer, said, "He did it perfectly."

Smullen said Funny Cide wore a snaffle bit in the work. For the Triple Crown campaign, he was equipped with a Houghton bit, a more restrictive piece of equipment that provides the rider with more control.

Tagg plans on two or three more works for Funny Cide before the $1 million Haskell at Monmouth Park Aug. 3. Funny Cide will work once more at Belmont, before shipping to Saratoga on July 22.

In his first recorded work since the Belmont Stakes on June 7, Funny Cide stretched his legs in a half-mile move in 51.25 seconds on July 7.

Tagg said Funny Cide never showed any ill effects from the rigors of the Triple Crown.

"Four days [after the Belmont] he was right back where he was going into the race," Tagg said. "Of course, you have to give him the time to make sure."