03/19/2010 12:00AM

Swale in D' Funnybone's wheelhouse

Barbara D. Livingston
D' Funnybone, with Edgar Prado up, has won 3 of his last 4 starts, including three Grade 2 sprints.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. admitted to being nervous before he ran D' Funnybone as the even-money favorite in last month's Grade 2 Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park. After all, the last time D' Funnybone raced, he had finished last in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

"Different track he's got to run on, coming off a bad race, he needed to show up, and he did," Dutrow said. "He won that race very easy."

Now, confidence has replaced nervousness for Dutrow as he prepares to run D' Funnybone in Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 Swale Stakes at Gulfstream. D' Funnybone, the 122-pound highweight under Edgar Prado from post 7, will take on eight rivals in the seven-furlong Swale, which goes off one race prior to the Florida Derby.

"I've got no pressure with Funnybone, because he's already shown up," said Dutrow, who trains the colt for Paul Pompa Jr. "He's on his game. We know he likes the track, we know he likes the distance. If we get the trip, I'm supposed to meet him in the winner's circle."

If you throw out the Juvenile, D' Funnybone has won three consecutive Grade 2 sprint stakes, including the Saratoga Special, Futurity at Belmont, and Hutcheson.

"When he's run for us sprinting, there's never been an anxious moment," Dutrow said.

D' Funnybone won the Hutcheson off a stalking trip behind speed horses Hear Ye Hear Yee and Wildcat Frankie. Hear Ye Hear Ye is back for the Swale, and he figures to be entertained up front by Gary D, who won the OBS Sprint over the synthetic surface at the Ocala Training Center on Feb. 15.

Ibboyee was beaten two lengths by D' Funnybone in the Hutcheson, and is among his chief rivals Saturday. Trainer Todd Pletcher felt Ibboyee didn't have the best of trips in the Hutcheson.

"He was stuck down on the inside throughout the race," Pletcher said. "He ran courageously through the stretch. There's reason to believe he can move forward from that one."

Three of D' Funnybone's opponents are making their seasonal debuts in the Swale: Dixie Band, Fearless Cowboy, and Privilaged.

Dixie Band won three one-turn races over Arlington's synthetic surface before finishing 10th in the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland. The Hutcheson will be his dirt debut, but trainer Wayne Catalano has been pleased with the way Dixie Band has trained over the dirt.

"He's got a dirt pedigree," Catalano said. "I always thought maybe he's not at his best over the Poly, and he won three. I like the way he's training right now. He's going into the race very well."

Asked if he thought Dixie Band could upset D' Funnybone, Catalano said: "It's horse racing. They line 'em up in the gate. Tell you what, it wouldn't surprise me."

Privilaged went 1 for 5 over four different synthetic surfaces in California last year. He was compromised by a terrible break in his fifth-place finish in the Gold Rush Stakes.

"He almost flipped in the gate at Golden Gate and broke five lengths behind the field," trainer John Sadler said. "We wanted to get him on dirt for sure. He's a pretty nice horse. Things haven't gone right for him. He's gotten some bad trips. He had a little hock infection, which cost him some time. We do really want to see this horse on dirt."