Juvenile filly The Funky Express and elder half-sister Funky Munky Mama – both Gary Gullo-trainees – finished first and second respectively in a pair of back-to-back Delaware Park stakes races on Saturday, both piloted by Anna Napravnik, who was back in the saddle after three months on the sidelines with a broken wrist.
The Funky Express, a daughter of Freud owned by Funky Munky Stable and Herbert I. Moelis, went into the 5 1/2-furlong, $75,000 Small Wonder Stakes on the heels of a 6 1/2-length romp against $50,000 state-bred maiden claimers at Saratoga in her second career start on August 19. The filly went to her inside post as the bettors’ choice at odds of 1.80-1.
After Napravnik got The Funky Express smartly out gate, she hustled her up along the rail to grab an early lead. The pair set swift fractions of 21.69 and 45.15 and never faced a serious challenge on their way to a comfortable 2 1/4-length victory. The final time of 1:04.26 translated into a career-high Beyer Speed Figure for the filly of 75.
The victory by The Funky Express made full amends – if needed – for the solid runner-up finish by her older half-sister in the prior race, the $75,000 Tax Free Shopping Distaff. Funky Munky Stable’s Funky Munky Mama, narrow second choice in the betting behind 1.70-1 favorite Comet of Love at odds of 1.90-1, grappled stoutly with older rivals only to be run down in the final stages.
Winner of a first-level allowance for state-breds early in the Saratoga meet, Funky Munky Mama – like her sister – had a bit of freshening after her most recent start, a third-place finish behind a runaway winner in a second-level state-bred allowance/optional claimer at Belmont on August 31. The three-year-old daughter of Lion Hearted brought a five-furlong bullet work on October 7 (1:00 4/5) into the six-furlong contest.
On the engine after breaking from post three, Funky Munky Mama immediately had company on the front end in the form of Palmetto Lane. The pair dueled for the first half, with Palmetto Lane leading through first quarter (21.84) and Funky Munky Mama, in the two path, leading for the second quarter (44.52). When the early challenger began to fade, Players Court took up the cause.
Even after Funky Munky Mama had apparently managed to shake off all her challengers – and led by 1 1/2 lengths with a furlong to go – one more test remained. Favorite Comet of Love, who raced in last place early, had all the momentum in the stretch and, after passing horses in the center of the track, streaked to the wire, ultimately barreling past Funky Munky Mama on her way to a one-length victory. The final time for the six furlongs run over a fast track was 1:10.43 for an 83 Beyer Speed Figure.
Funky Munky Mama adds the Tax Free Shopping placing to a pair of stakes-placings earned as a juvenile – third in the Lady Finger Stakes and second by a head Delaware’s Small Wonder. Her record now stands at 2-2-3 from 10 career starts with earnings of $97,945. Both siblings were eligible for the races by virtue of being Delaware-certified.
Bred by Candyland Farm and foaled at Gallagher’s Stud in Ghent, the half-sisters are the only two starters from black type-placed earner of $151,188 The Rodeo Express, a Candyland Farm homebred by Rodeo campaigned by Humberto Morales. The Rodeo Express also has a yearling colt by Hook and Ladder. who was purchased by Webb Carroll at the Fasig-Tipton Eastern Yearling sale for $2,000.