Funny Guy has last laugh in NYSSS Times Square
by Keith McCalmont
OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Gatsas Stables, R. A. Hill Stable and Swick Stable's Funny Guy prevailed in a stirring stretch duel with Blindwillie McTell to capture Saturday's $200,000 Times Square division of the New York Stallion Series Stakes in the final race of the Aqueduct Racetrack spring meet.
Dismissed at odds of 13-1 in the 6 1/2-furlong main-track sprint for eligible New York-sired sophomores, Funny Guy, with Rajiv Maragh up, settled in sixth position as Hushion marked the opening quarter-mile in 22.21 seconds over a sloppy and sealed main track.
Hushion continued the tempo into the turn through a half-mile in 45.34 with multiple stakes winner Blindwillie McTell pinned to his flank. Funny Guy and Thorny Tale launched menacing bids late in the turn with Maragh moving inside of Captain Frost before angling Funny Guy out for the stretch run.
As the field straightened away, Blindwillie McTell assumed a narrow lead and battled gamely to the wire but he could not repel the serious turn of foot from Funny Guy, who secured a three-quarter-length win in a final running time of 1:18.29.
Blindwillie McTell completed the exacta, 6 3/4-lengths in front of Thorny Tale. Hushion, Bankit, Bebe Banker, Captain Frost, Seed Money and Kosciuszko completed the order of finish. The Big Lebanese and Ventus were scratched.
The victory marked the second stakes win of the meet for Maragh, who said he had planned a more aggressive approach.
"Everything went well. He broke well and I wanted him to be close, but the speed went to the front and developed in front of him," said Maragh. "We fell into a nice tracking trip and every time I asked him, he kept inching closer. I felt like he was going to give me a good trip straightening up and he powered home in the stretch."
It was the first stakes win for Funny Guy and first stakes score of the meet for trainer John Terranova, who said he was impressed with how his charge handled the off going.
"This was a step up in class. He always had trained like a good horse and like a good New York-bred. Today, he handled the track fine. He's matured physically so we can do more with him. The more we do, the better he gets. He just has a good presence about him," said Terranova.
Terranova said Funny Guy, by Big Brown and out of the multiple stakes winning dam Heavenly Humor, could make his next start on the Belmont Park turf.
"He's bred for the turf, so he's got that. His dam [Heavenly Humor] was a stakes winner on grass," said Terranova. "Once we get over to Belmont, we'll breeze him over the grass and see how he does. The Mike Lee [May 27 at Belmont] also is an option."
Bred in New York by Hibiscus Stable, Funny Guy banked $55,000 in victory while improving his record to 2-1-0 from five starts. He paid $29.20 for a $2 win ticket.
Live racing now moves to beautiful Belmont Park where the Friday, April 26 Opening Day card will feature nine races, headlined by the $100,000 Affirmed Success. First post time on the lid lifter is 1:30 p.m.