Racing: Funny Cide dream falls flat

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The Independent Online

Funny Cide's American Triple Crown dream disappeared in the New York mud as the gelding was eclipsed by his arch rival Empire Maker in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.

While the gelding's trainer, Barclay Tagg, and jockey, Jose Santos, were coming to terms with the disappointment of Funny Cide's failure to become the 12th horse to follow victory in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes with success at Belmont, connections of Empire Maker were revelling in their success.

"This is probably the greatest thrill I've had in racing," the winning trainer, Bobby Frankel, said. "All along I've thought he was the best horse. This was a little bit of vindication."

Frankel said the next target for Empire Maker, owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms, could be the Grade Two Jim Dandy Stakes and Grade One Travers Stakes in August. Empire Maker had suffered from a bruised foot in the build-up to the "Run For The Roses" in which he was second to Funny Cide and missed the Preakness in order to be 100 per cent for the Belmont.

Watched by a crowd of 101,864, Funny Cide tried to make all the running, but when Jerry Bailey made his move on Empire Maker on the turn for home the favourite was soon floundering and Ten Most Wanted was able to take second.

Bailey, whose previous Belmont success came on Hansel in 1991, said: "I rode him like he was the best horse. You can't believe the roar from this crowd when we turned for home."

Empire Maker has been installed as 8-1 second favourite by Coral, behind Godolphin's Moon Ballad, at 6-1, for the Breeders' Cup Classic on 25 October. Funny Cide is a 14-1 shot, along with last year's winner, Volponi. Aidan O'Brien's Hawk Wing is 20-1, while Kris Kin is 25-1.