Updated on 09/17/2011 11:37AM

Grey Comet 'overlooked' in big year


Funny Cide isn't the only 3-year-old New York-bred in position to win a bonus next weekend at Belmont Park.

The day after Saturday's Belmont Stakes, where Funny Cide will try to earn a $5 million bonus by sweeping the Triple Crown, Grey Comet will try to win his owners a $100,000 bonus in the $250,000 Cab Calloway Stakes. Grey Comet is owned and was bred by the Star Track Farm of Peter Winston and his father, Marshall.

Grey Comet, a son of Distinctive Pro, became eligible for the bonus by winning the Great White Way last November and the Times Square on April 27, both at Aqueduct. Those races are part of the New York Stallion Series, which is restricted to the progeny of New York stallions.

This is the first year that a bonus has been attached to the Stallion Series. The Cab Calloway and the $250,000 Statue of Liberty for 3-year-old fillies, also on June 8, will be run for the first time this year.

Grey Comet, who is trained by Gary Contessa, has earned $355,455. In addition to his wins in the Stallion Series, Grey Comet won the Damon Runyon and the Count Fleet at Aqueduct. He also finished second in Aqueduct's Grade 3 Gotham and Whirlaway and was third in the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park. His record is 5-2-1 in eight starts.

In most other years, Grey Comet would be the leader of his division. But he had the bad luck to be foaled in the same year as Funny Cide, as well as Spite the Devil, the Withers winner, and Go Rockin' Robin, the Peter Pan winner.

"In other years he would be a standout, but he is the overlooked New York-bred," Contessa said. "He's beaten Go Rockin' Robin and Spite the Devil. We have the second-best New York-bred. Had we plotted a different course we might have won the Withers and Peter Pan, but we were nursing a foot bruise."

After the 1 1/16-mile Cab Calloway, Contessa will point Grey Comet to the Big Apple Triple for 3-year-old New York-breds. Unlike in the Stallion Series, a horse doesn't have to be sired by a New York stallion to compete in the Big Apple Triple.

The Big Apple Triple begins at Belmont with the $100,000 Mike Lee June 28. The middle leg is the $250,000 New York Derby at Finger Lakes July 26, followed by the $150,000 Albany at Saratoga Aug. 20. The owner of the horse who sweeps the series receives a $250,000 bonus.

Contessa said he believes Grey Comet has the versatility to win the Big Apple Triple, which is run at three distances: seven furlongs in the Mike Lee, 1 1/16 miles in the New York Derby, and 1 1/8 miles in the Albany. Grey Comet has won races ranging in distance from six furlongs to 1 1/16 miles.

"He's just an incredible animal," Contessa said. "I have no doubt he will sprint or go long."

Through the end of April, Contessa was the leading trainer of New York-breds in purses won, with $784,339. Last year, Contessa ended the season as the leading trainer of New York-breds, with purses exceeding $1.5 million.

"I look forward to eclipsing that number this year," Contessa said. "I have 16 older New York-breds between Monmouth and New York and about 15 to 20 New York-bred 2-year-olds at some point in their training."

'Robin' rocks for WinStar-McMahon

Go Rockin' Robin kept the WinStar-McMahon hot streak alive by winning last Saturday's Grade 2 Peter Pan at Belmont.

Like Funny Cide, Go Rockin' Robin is a 3-year-old New York-bred who is by the Kentucky-based sire Distorted Humor and was foaled at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, owned by Joe and Anne McMahon, in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

WinStar Farm, which stands Distorted Humor, and the McMahons are the co-breeders of Go Rockin' Robin. The colt's mare, Flag Support, is a daughter of the McMahons' stallion Personal Flag.

Go Rockin' Robin is trained by Scott Schwartz and owned by his father, Herbert, and stepmother, Carol.

The Schwartzes usually breed their runners, but they were a little short on their foal crop of 2000, so Scott Schwartz was scouting weanlings at the McMahons' farm and found one that caught his fancy: Go Rockin' Robin.

Go Rockin' Robin was foaled March 17, 34 days before Funny Cide was born. The horses shared the same paddock before Funny Cide left the farm in the fall as a weanling. Go Rockin' Robin was bought by the Schwartzes a couple of months later.

* A win or a second-place finish in the $1 million Belmont Stakes for Funny Cide would make him the richest New York-bred in history. Say Florida Sandy is in the top spot, with $2,074,409 to Funny Cide's $1,889,385.