Updated on 09/17/2011 11:07AM

Peace Rules wins Haskell, Funny Cide 3rd

Peace Rules and Edgar Prado cruise to the wire to capture the $1.1 million Haskell Invitational by 1 3/4 lengths over Sky Mesa on Sunday at Monmouth Park.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Peace Rules on Sunday morning came down the New York Thruway from Saratoga, crossed over to the Garden State Parkway, arrived at Monmouth Park, and then Sunday afternoon kept right on motoring, leading from start to finish to capture the $1.1 million .

Peace Rules won by 1 3/4 lengths over Sky Mesa, with Funny Cide, the wagering and sentimental favorite of the record Monmouth crowd of 53,638, checking in a distant third, some 7 1/4 lengths behind Sky Mesa in an uncharacteristically dull performance.

The victory offered a significant consolation prize for trainer Bobby Frankel, whose Empire Maker was upset only minutes earlier at Saratoga in the Jim Dandy Stakes by Strong Hope. Assistant Jose Cuevas saddled Peace Rules at Monmouth.

Peace Rules always has raced in the shadow of Empire Maker, but he has compiled an enviable record. He won the Louisiana Derby and Blue Grass Stakes earlier this year, was third in the Kentucky Derby, then was given a freshening following a fourth-place finish in the Preakness Stakes. Four of his final six works heading into the Haskell were the best of the day at the distance.

It was a warm, humid day at Monmouth, but predicted showers never arrived. The track was extremely fast, with most sprints producing opening quarter miles in 21 seconds and change. Peace Rules got a soft trip under the circumstances. When no one set out with purpose for the lead, he found himself in front while setting comfortable fractions of 23.29 seconds, :47.06 and 1:10.86 for the first six furlongs.

Funny Cide, meanwhile, was struggling. Funny Cide usually moves up on his own, running into the bit, but jockey Jose Santos was shoving on him midway down the backstretch.

"I took him out, then back in," Santos said. "Usually he takes off with me."

Peace Rules cruised around the final turn unchallenged, kicked clear by three lengths at the top of the stretch, and had plenty left to hold off Sky Mesa. Funny Cide rallied to finish third, passing tired horses while never really accelerating.

"Bobby thought Peace Rules was at his best coming off a layoff," said Prado, who chose to ride Peace Rules over Sky Mesa. "After the Preakness, he pointed for this particular race. He was right."

Peace Rules was timed in 1:49.32 for 1 1/8 miles. The victory was his sixth in 11 starts. Peace Rules, a 3-year-old son of Jules, is 5 for 8 since Frankel acquired him for owner Ed Gann. The Haskell victory was worth $600,000.

John Ward Jr., who trains Sky Mesa with his wife, Donna, was thrilled with the way Sky Mesa performed in his second start of the year.

"He's so lightly raced," Ward said. It's a learning process."

Santos opined that Funny Cide needed the race and would be at the top of his game for the Travers Stakes at Saratoga in three weeks. Barclay Tagg, who trains Funny Cide, said Santos told him that Funny Cide was not handling the track.

"He said he was fighting the track," Tagg said. "But the track was so fast - they were running 21 and change every race - it's hard to imagine the track would be breaking away from him."

*A daily double bet combining Amigo Hall, the winner of Saturday's Hambletonian harness race at the Meadowlands, with Peace Rules paid $331.20.