Dugout noses Bankit in Funny Cide

Friday, August 24th, 2018

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

By Sarah Mace

Dugout and Bankit turned the fifth running of the $200,000 Funny Cide for New York-bred juveniles into a thriller. With their heads bobbing up and down on virtually even terms in the final strides of the at 6 1/2-fulong dash, it took a photo to determine whose nose got to the finish line first. Dugout, a grey colt by Adios Charlie trained by Larry Rivelli, got the decision.

Dugout was unveiled early in the Saratoga meet (July 23) and was an impressive 7-plus length winner in a sloppy 5 1/2-furlong off-the-turf affair that attracted nine. In the interim the colt posted a pair of solid half-mile works over the main track.

Owner of the best last-out Beyer Speed Figure in the field of five, Dugout was the second choice in the betting at odds of 3-1 but it was a well-matched field, with four individuals sitting at lower than 4-1 odds at post time. Even so, taking the lion’s share of bettor’s money was La Fuerza, a two-for-two Todd Pletcher-trained colt who won the Rockville Centre at Belmont Park on June 22 and prevailed in both starts with professional stalking tactics.

Right from the bell, the Funny Cide unfolded as “The Dugout and Bankit Show.” Dugout veered out slightly after the break from post four, along with La Fuerza who veered out more dramatically from post five, but quickly got himself going in a straight line and aimed for the top spot. Bankit, for his part, outran his neighbors from post three and set up at the fence.

Bankit on the inside had a slight edge along the backstretch through an opening quarter-mile in 22.28, but Dugout shadowed him closely all the way through the far turn and the pair traversed the bend virtually in tandem as the half ticked by in 45.09.

NYRA/Susie Raisher

Bankit cornered neatly at the rail and straightened away for the stretch drive with a slight advantage, but Dugout eroded the lead steadily and drew even again by mid-stretch.

In the final panel the pair went at it hammer and tongs, finishing the race with noses up and down on the line, and Dugout getting the edge. Bustin to Be Loved finished third 3 3/4 lengths back, followed across the line by Dalliance and La Fuerza, who never seemed to recover his poise after the poor start. The final time for 6 1/2 furlongs was 1:16.43. [VIDEO REPLAY]

Castellano is very enthusiastic about his mount’s prospects. “He’s such a talented horse,” said the pilot. “He ran huge on the sloppy track last time [in his debut]. Today, it was a fast track. He has all of the potential. He has the speed, he has the stamina, I think he can be any horse.”

He added, “My horse was game. Last time it was 5 1/2 [furlongs], today it was 6 1/2. He gave me a little extra. A very special horse.”

“It was a great trip,” Rivelli commented. “I figured it was going to be between us and Asmussen [trainer of Bankit] and I was confident coming into the race, but I’m glad everything worked out.”

Rivelli continued, “I talked to Javier before the race and we set him up with a game plan, Most of the runners in this race had won on the front end, so I didn’t want him let him get hit with a lot dirt. I told him, ‘If you can make the lead, make it, because speed has been going good and he just gave a professional ride.”

Owned by Rivelli, Richard Ravin and Patricia’s Hope LLC, Dugout was also bred by Ravin and Rivelli, which made the victory extra-sweet. “This is the first homebred we’ve had, and we dropped him in New York and he won, so it’s exciting,” Rivelli said.

Dugout is the most recent foal out of Rooney Doodle, an unplaced California-bred daughter of Lit de Justice who has produced six winners from six foals to start. Dugout’s full-sister Jean Elizabeth is also a stakes winner, and half-sister Hollarforadollar is stakes placed. The mare has been bred back this year to Adios Charlie. From his pair of victories, Dugout has earned $151,250.

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