Funny Guy gets last laugh in Commentator Stakes at 11-1

Friday, June 12th, 2020

NYRA/Susie Raisher

By Sarah Mace

Making his 4-year-old debut after a break of more than eight months, Gatsas Stables, R. A. Hill Stable and Swick Stable’s Funny Guy (Big Brown) defeated a loaded field of older New York-bred routers to win Friday’s featured $125,000 Commentator Stakes at Belmont Park by 1 1/4 lengths with a rail-skimming ride under jockey Joel Rosario.

The one-mile Commentator drew a deep, competitive field of nine, headed by 4-5 favorite Mr. Buff, who has owned this division of late, winning five contests against state-bred foes in a row, not least the Haynesfield Stakes on February 22, where he romped by an eye-popping 20 lengths. Bettors gave him a decided edge sending him off at 4-5 odds. The last time Mr. Buff tasted defeat in this company was in last year’s Commentator, when he finished third by just three-quarters of a length to Pat On the Back, now a graded stakes winner and back to defend his title at odds of 7-1.

Funny Guy was one of a trio of 4-year-olds in the race testing his mettle against elders. Winner of the Times Square division of the New York Stallion Stakes series and the Albany Stakes at Saratoga at three, the bay colt returned to action with a string of good-looking works to his credit, including bullet moves at five and six furlongs in May and April.

“He’s been training really well and looks great,” said trainer John Terranova when entries were drawn. “He’s been ready to run for a little bit now and is just waiting like everyone else. I think the mile for him is a good distance to get started back.” For bettors, Funny Guy fell somewhat between the cracks, going off at 11-1 odds.

Breaking inward from post three of nine, Funny Guy quickly got his feet under him and set up shop at the rail in seventh behind fast early splits of 22.67 and 45.81 set by Gulfstream invader Blewitt. A scrum pursued the pacesetter a length back comprised of Mr. Buff, Pat On the Back and Build to Suit.

Asked for a little more in the approach to the turn, Funny Guy glided up the rail into contention in the bend, cut the corner and was left with plenty of room to rally at the fence.

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

With three left to pass at midstretch, Funny Guy overhauled a tiring Blewett, Mr. Buff and Pat On the Back and edged off to win by a margin of 1 1/4 lengths. Mr. Buff, who had been on the sharp pace throughout held well for second, finishing a neck in front multiple graded stakes placed Bankit, who closed with good energy after being more than eight lengths off the pace in the early stages.

Completing the order of finish were Blewett, Build to Suit, Pat On the Back, Honor Up and My Boy Tate. Whistling Birds was pulled up. Following six furlongs in 1:10.10, Funny Guy completed the one-turn mile in 1:34.35.

“Between the three-eighths and the quarter-pole, I had a problem with the horses in front of me and I had to check him a little bit,” jockey Joel Rosario reported. “He was okay with that and was handling everything fine and was able to come up the inside and sustain his run. He kept improving. The further we went, the better he was going.”

“He’s been doing really well and training great,” Terranova added. “We’ve had him ready for a while now. Of course, we’ve all been delayed coming back, and the race came up a deep field for New York-breds; that was our only maybe concern. As far as his training goes, he’s progressed as a 4-year-old and just gotten stronger and stronger. I was hoping for a big effort and thought we would get it, but it was even sweeter than expected.”

Junior Alvarado, Mr. Buff’s regular rider was pleased with his mount’s effort considering an 111-day break since his last start. “He’s a pro,” said the rider of the beaten favorite. “He ran his race. We thought coming into the race, it might be a little quick for him. He had only four workouts and two were easy and two trying to get him a little tighter before the race. We had that on our minds and I didn’t want to chase the lead too early and get tired.

“Coming from a little bit of a layoff, I thought he put a great effort in today. He was really digging in for me and he never gave up any ground. I don’t think the weight mattered too much. He’s a big guy, he can handle it. For me, it was more just needing a little more time.” Mr. Buff toted 127 pounds, spotting the competition three to eight pounds.

Bred by Mike Oliveto’s Hibiscus Stable and foaled at Waldorf Farm in North Chatham, Funny Guy 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 is also the dam of stakes winner Super Humor by Super Saver and juvenile stakes performer Three Jokers, a 3-year-old New York-bred by Twirling Candy. She has a 2019 filly by Overanalyze.

When first offered at public auction as a yearling, Funny Guy brought only $10,000 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 four wins and four seconds from 11 starts and he has bankrolled $458,395.

Funny Guy’s sire, Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown, stands at Irish Hill & Dutchess Views Stallions. His 2020 stud fee was $5,000.

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