05/14/2003 11:00PM

Preakness Profiles: Funny Cide


STRENGTHS: Having proved himself in the Kentucky Derby, Funny Cide has shown the ability to attack effectively from close range and survive challenges at more than one point in the running. That is his greatest strength in this tactical race, where early pace and position are everything. The gelding turned in one of the best works of his career recently at Belmont and does not have far to ship this time. Because of Funny Cide's draw of post 9 and many handicappers' admiration of Peace Rules's excellent pace-setting try in the Derby, Funny Cide may not be the favorite. He remains the one to beat, however, and has proved himself over a muddy surface (a possible track condition Saturday). Emotional motivation is also a factor for Santos in light of recent baseless allegations.

WEAKNESSES: Lack of familiarity with the Pimlico surface is one of the obvious shortcomings, but he is not alone in that respect. The tighter configuration of the track also means some horses will handle the turns far better than others. Funny Cide's only poor race in his career was at Gulfstream, when he was burdened with post position 13.

STRATEGY: The connections of Funny Cide are looking for a journey similar to the one that landed them the roses in Louisville. If Peace Rules and Scrimshaw engage in a speed duel, Funny Cide will once again be the beneficiary. Look for Santos to tuck in as early as possible and unleash his runner before the three-eighths pole.

BETTING VALUE: If you videotaped the Derby, watch the odds change during the running! A large amount of money was put on Funny Cide in the final cycles of wagering. Because of his excellent trip, many handicappers may overreact to Funny Cide's victory and look elsewhere. He may go to post at surprising odds of 7-2.