Funny Guy gets breakthrough victory in deep renewal of Albany

Friday, August 23rd, 2019

Coglianese Photos

By Sarah Mace

The stakes portion of this summer’s Saratoga New York-bred Showcase card concluded with a treat: one of the largest, deepest renewals of the $250,000 Albany Stakes for New York-bred 3-year-olds in recent years.

When the dust settled after the sophomores had covered 1 1/8 miles, Funny Guy, a colt by New York sire Big Brown who is campaigned by Gatsas Stables, R. A. Hill Stable and Swick Stable and trained by John Terranova, came away with a breakthrough victory under regular rider Rajiv Maragh. If that weren’t enough, earlier in the card in race 4, Funny Guy’s juvenile half-brother captured a maiden special weight for the same breeder, owners and trainer.

Making his ninth career start in the Albany, the consistent Funny Guy had finished in the exacta in six of eight prior races. He broke his maiden last December 22 at second asking, eking out a neck win after going 6 1/2 furlongs in the mud. Unplaced in the Rego Park on January 13 after attending a wicked pace, he returned in mid-March following a brief freshening to run a solid second in a first-level state-bred allowance. He followed up with a determined victory in the Times Square division of the New York Stallion Stakes (NYSS) series on April 20.

Second to Albany rival Blindwillie McTell in the Mike Lee Stakes on May 27, Funny Guy then took a two-race turf detour, contesting the NYSS Spectacular Bid and Cab Calloway divisions on grass. Each time he had to settle for a runner-up finish behind the talented Jimmy Bond-trainee Rinaldi.

NYRA/Derbe Glass

As Terranova sees it, “He’s been versatile on both [turf and dirt], although he’s better on dirt. We kind of knew that after the last couple of races. I think he’s just a good horse that likes to run and he was able to tolerate the turf. We ran for a couple of nice purses the last two times. Given his first race on the grass we tried it again, and ran into Jimmy’s horse, Rinaldi, who I think is a really nice turf horse.”

Let go in the Albany at 7-1 odds, Funny Guy settled in mid-pack and took the clubhouse turn three-wide. On the backstretch the chestnut colt raced at the fence in the clear behind the vanguard, while the speedy Not That Brady set all the early splits, carving out an opening quarter mile in 23.54, half in 47.76 and six panels in 1:11.49.

Funny Guy began to pick things up late on the far turn, angled out four wide at the quarter pole and embarked on a strong drive.

Meanwhile Not That Brady at the fence had been joined to his outside by Blindwillie McTell and Just Right. Funny Guy inhaled the entire trio and shook clear.

Bankit, with a well-timed and menacing move down the center of the track, tried to spoil Funny Guy’s party, but ran out of real estate and Funny Guy hung on to get the win by a head.

Coglianese Photos

Doups Point finished third 2 3/4 lengths behind Bankit. Not That Brady completed the superfecta. Finishing next in order of finish were Blindwillie McTell, Just Right, Kazmania, Daddy Knows and Dancers for Token. Make Motime was a gate scratch. After one mile in 1:36.57, the final time for nine furlongs was 1:49.35. [VIDEO REPLAY]

Rajiv Maragh said, “He broke well, which I was hoping to do to gain position, and we got a nice run into the turn. He was nice and relaxed in the backstretch, and we were just biding our time until it was time to go.

“In the stretch, it was clear sailing and we went for it. For a moment there he got a little lost on the lead being in front and was kind of waiting a little on horses. I had to keep him to his task and fortunately the wire came up before the other horse got me.”

Terranova added, “There was a bit of a pace in here. We thought we’d just break away from there and see where he put him, get comfortable and let him do his thing. He’s a really smart colt and he’s very handy, so if he has to go inside of horses or outside, it doesn’t really make a difference. He’s done all that so far, and taken a lot of dirt.

“It looked like he had to kind of muscle his way through there [in the far turn], but then I saw Rajiv take another hold of him at the five-sixteenths pole I knew he had a lot of horse. I said, ‘All right, let’s just get a clear run down the stretch.’ He put him in the right spot to get it done. He’s just a good, honest horse.”

Three Jokers (R4)/Coglianense Photos

Bred by Hibiscus Stable, Funny Guy brought only $10,000 as a yearling when purchased by RSB Farm at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale. Gatsas Thoroughbreds bought him for $45,000 the following year at the OBS spring sale. Funny Guy’s record now stands at three wins and four seconds from nine starts and he has bankrolled $389,645.

He is one of eight winners from eight foals to start out of Heavenly Humor, a Kentucky-bred five-time stakes winner and stakes producer purchased by Hibiscus Stables with Funny Guy in utero at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton New York fall mixed sale for $25,000.

Heavenly Humor’s juvenile colt by Twirling Candy named Three Jokers brought more joy to the day for Funny Guy’s connections when he broke maiden at first asking earlier in the card, in race 4, by 2 3/4 lengths going 5 1/2 furlongs. Heavenly Humor foaled a colt by Overanlyze this past April.

Funny Guy’s sire, Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown, stands at Irish Hill & Dutchess Views Stallions. His 2019 stud fee was $5,000.

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