Updated on 09/17/2011 10:33AM

'Funny' takes it easy


ELMONT, N.Y. - With a gaggle of media dogging his every move Wednesday at Belmont Park, Funny Cide returned to the track for the first time since winning last Saturday's Preakness.

With Robin Smullen aboard, Funny Cide went to the main track at 9:15 a.m. on a drizzly and overcast day. He alternated between a jog and a canter while traveling the wrong way once around Belmont's 1 1/2-mile oval.

It was the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner's first step in preparing for the $1 million Belmont Stakes on June 7, where a record crowd is expected to see if Funny Cide will become racing's 12th Triple Crown winner and the first since 1978.

Funny Cide isn't galloped every day because he can be too strong, according to his trainer, Barclay Tagg. By jogging the wrong way around the track, Funny Cide can be kept at a reasonable pace.

"When you turn him around, he can be pretty strong," Tagg said.

Smullen, Tagg's assistant and Funny Cide's exercise rider, said the gelding took everything in stride, including Wednesday's heavy media presence, which included camera crews from CNN and local news stations.

"He felt great," Smullen said as Funny Cide was hand-walked in Barn 6 after his jog. "He handles everything. The pony gets more riled than he does."

Tagg is planning on working Funny Cide twice before the Belmont, but the trainer didn't commit to when the first work would take place. Tagg said he usually works his horses 10 days after they run, but because Funny Cide ran a big race in the Preakness and had to travel to and from Maryland, he might wait a couple days longer.

In other Belmont developments:

* Colita, a winner of a second-level allowance race on Wednesday at Belmont, will run in the Belmont Stakes, according to Barry Irwin, the president of the Team Valor syndicate that owns the colt in partnership.

"We think he can go that far," Irwin said.

Colita, a son of Grindstone, won the 1 1/16-mile race by 2 1/4 lengths and covered the distance in 1:40.69 over a muddy track. Colita, who is trained by Carlos Morales, was wearing blinkers for the first time.

* Most Feared, second to Dynever in the Lone Star Derby, will not run in the Belmont. Most Feared's trainer, Ronny Werner, said he wanted an easier spot for the horse. Werner will point Most Feared to the $300,000 Ohio Derby at Thistledown on June 21.

* Ten Most Wanted worked Wednesday at Hollywood Park and covered six furlongs in 1:13.40. Ten Most Wanted finished ninth in the Kentucky Derby after being bumped at the start and emerged from the race with back soreness.

"We expect him to run a big race," trainer Wally Dollase said of the Belmont Stakes. "He had a good excuse in the Derby as far as I'm concerned."

Wally Dollase said Ten Most Wanted would arrive in New York during Belmont week.

* Trainer Bobby Frankel said Empire Maker, who finished second to Funny Cide in the Kentucky Derby and then skipped the Preakness, came out his Tuesday work in good order. Empire Maker worked a bullet six furlongs in 1:12.04 at Belmont.

"It quieted him down," Frankel said. "It's what he needs. He has too much energy all the time. He ate up and everything is fine."

* Dynever's trainer, Christophe Clement, is looking for a break in the weather to work the Lone Star Derby winner at Belmont in the next few days. Clement said Thursday was a possibility.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen

Belmont Stakes contenders

The following horses are being considered for the 135th Belmont Stakes June 7:

Horse Jockey Trainer Last start
Atswhatimtalknbout D. Flores R. Ellis 4th, Ky. Derby
Colita undecided C. Morales 1st, Bel allow.
Dynever E. Prado C. Clement 1st, L.S. Derby
Empire Maker J. Bailey R. Frankel 2nd, Ky. Derby
Funny Cide J. Santos B. Tagg 1st, Preakness
Scrimshaw G. Stevens D.W. Lukas 3rd, Preakness
Ten Most Wanted P. Day W. Dollase 9th, Ky. Derby
* Possible: Alysweep, Christine's Outlaw, Midway Road, Outta Here