08/09/2011 11:54AM

Saratoga: Funny Sunny tries turf in Lucy Scribner Stakes


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Trainer Bob Hess Jr. is splitting time between Del Mar and Saratoga this summer, and one of the reasons he’s here this week is to run his promising 3-year-old filly Funny Sunny, who has won twice in three starts and will make her turf debut in the $75,000 Lucy Scribner, one of three stakes races on Thursday’s card at Saratoga.

The Scribner, the seventh race on the card, shares the spotlight with the $100,000 New York Stallion Series stakes – in which Freud’s Honor should be favored against the filly Hessonite – and the $70,000 Mrs. Ogden Phipps, a jump race that kicks off the 10-race program. But the Scribner is the most compelling of the trio, featuring Funny Sunny as well as turn-back play Sunlight Sonata and Doing Great, a runaway winner of her lone grass race at Colonial last month. There are eight entrants in the 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint.

Funny Sunny has not raced since February, when she crushed a first-level allowance field by 10 3/4 lengths at Gulfstream.

“As well as she ran, she popped a splint,” said Hess, who trains Funny Sunny for Amanda Pope, the breeder of Whitney Stakes winner Tizway. “It didn’t require surgery, but she needed some time. She’s a neat filly. She’s ready. Very ready. The question is the grass. It wasn’t what we wanted, but I entered her in a stakes last week that didn’t go, and we need to get going.”

Sunlight Sonata returns to a turf sprint after fading to fourth when facing talented stablemate Winter Memories in the 1 1/16-mile Lake George here July 27.

“We didn’t expect her to beat Winter Memories, but the Lake George came up with a short field, so we took a shot,” said Jimmy Toner, who trains both Sunlight Sonata and Winter Memories. “Now, we know what she wants to be. She’s distance limited. That race didn’t hurt her, and this distance hits her right between the eyes.”

Sunlight Sonata has a win and a second in two prior turf sprints.

Doing Great returned from a 5 1/2-month layoff with a powerful win in a stakes race restricted to Virginia-breds at Colonial. Her 90 Beyer Speed Figure is the best grass figure in the race, but she is being wheeled back just 11 days after that win.

Doing Great may get an ideal pace setup, though, because Funny Sunny and Sunlight Sonata prefer to be on or near the lead as do Cascadilla Falls, Ms. Cruisen’, and Rosa Salvaje.

An intriguing longshot is Tale Untold, who has faced older rivals in her two starts this year and had no pace at which to run in those races.