05/21/2008 11:00PM

Get Funky giving Shoemaker another try


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - To an extent, Get Funky is living in the past.

He was a top 3-year-old turf male at Del Mar in 2006, finishing third in the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap and winning the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby. Racing as an older horse has proven more difficult. Since he turned 4 last year, Get Funky has won 2 of 7 starts and one stakes - the Grade 3 Morvich Handicap last fall. One other bright spot was a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park in May 2007.

Monday, Get Funky is back in the Shoemaker, and again will be a longshot. Even though Get Funky was only fourth in the Grade 3 Inglewood Handicap on May 3 in his only start of the year, trainer John Sadler thinks the 5-year-old horse belongs.

"We deserve to be in there," he said. "If I'm placed, would I be shocked? No. If I win would I be shocked? No. A mile is a good distance for him."

In the 2007 Shoemaker, Get Funky led by a slim margin in the stretch and finished three-quarters of a length behind The Tin Man. Following that race, Get Funky was sidelined with a hock injury through the summer. He ran twice at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting, finishing fourth in the Grade 2 Oak Tree Mile and winning the Morvich for turf sprinters.

"He's had a lot of gaps," Sadler said.

Owned by Keith Abrahams, Get Funky has won 5 of 14 starts and $507,008. Abrahams and Sadler claimed him for $62,500 in April 2006 when Get Funky won his second start against maidens. Get Funky has earned $485,928 since being claimed.

The lack of success in recent stakes is not a surprise to Sadler.

"When you run 3-year-olds and up on turf in California, that's one of our strengths," said Sadler, speaking about the competition on the circuit. "I think he's a pretty nice horse, but he's in tougher races now."

The Shoemaker is likely to have a field of eight, including Daytona, Ever a Friend, Hyperbaric, Notional, Perfect Drift, Rebellion, and Thousand Words.

Ever a Friend, the winner of the Grade 1 Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita in March, and Daytona, the winner of five graded stakes in the last year, are the top contenders. Ever a Friend was claimed last fall and is unbeaten in two stakes this year for trainer Mike Mitchell.

Daytona, who won the Grade 2 Arcadia Handicap over a mile on turf at Santa Anita last month, breezed a half-mile in 48.20 seconds at Santa Anita on Thursday.

Lava Man works for Whittingham start

Lava Man, who has won the last three runnings of the Hollywood Gold Cup but is winless in his last four starts, worked a half-mile in 46.60 seconds on Thursday, preparing for a start in the $300,000 Charles Whittingham Handicap on June 7.

When Lava Man starts in the Grade 1 Whittingham, he is expected to have a new jockey for the first time in nearly three years. David Flores was aboard the 7-year-old gelding in Thursday's workout, and may have the mount in the Whittingham, a race that Lava Man won in 2006.

"Flores worked him with hope that he'll be open [to ride him] in the Whittingham," trainer Doug O'Neill said. "We feel that's a good fit for our team."

Owned by Jason Wood and STD Racing, Lava Man has had two jockeys in the last three years. Patrick Valenzuela rode him for four starts in the summer and fall of 2005, including his first win in the Gold Cup. Corey Nakatani began riding Lava Man in the fall of 2005 and was aboard for the gelding's next 17 starts, including six wins in Grade 1 races.

O'Neill did not elaborate on the reasons for the potential jockey switch.

Lava Man's workout was the fastest of 31 recorded works at the distance, and his first since a third-place finish in the Khaled Stakes here on April 27, his only start of 2008. Nakatani was aboard Lava Man in that race.

O'Neill thinks that Lava Man can rebound in the Whittingham, which is run over 1 1/4 miles on turf and is expected to draw top turf horse Champs Elysees.

"I think we're seeing a horse that has good energy," O'Neill said. "He still seems as good as ever. There is a lot of spring in his step."

Nakatani is booked to ride Vacare in the Just a Game Stakes at Belmont Park on June 7, according to his agent, Ron Ebanks.

Nakatani banged up, misses day

Nakatani took off his mounts on Thursday after being unseated after a race on Wednesday.

According to Ebanks, Nakatani was examined by a doctor on Thursday morning. X-rays on his shoulder were negative.

"He was kind of jarred up, kind of a whiplash thing," Ebanks said.

Ebanks said that Nakatani planned to exercise a horse on Friday morning at Hollywood Park and make a decision on whether to ride that evening's program or wait until Saturday to resume riding.