Stakes veteran Funny Guy looks to get last laugh in Say Florida Sandy
by Brian Bohl
Funny Guy will look to start his 5-year-old campaign with momentum at a familiar track and distance when he competes as part of a five-horse field in the $100,0000 Say Florida Sandy for New York-bred 4-year-olds and up on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The fourth running of the Say Florida Sandy will be contested at seven furlongs on the main track. Funny Guy, owned by Gatsas Stables, R.A. Hill Stable and Swick Stable, will look to replicate his winning effort going that same one-turn distance at the Big A when he edged My Boy Tate by a neck in the New York Stallion Stakes Thunder Rumble on November 22.
Bred by Hibiscus Stables, Funny Guy has found a comfort zone at the Ozone Park-based track, compiling a 3-1-0 record in five career starts, encompassing a pair of stakes wins and his maiden-breaking effort in 2018.
“We weren’t too sure exactly where to go to kick off this year, but he came out of the last race just fine and was training just fine, so this seemed like a good spot to get him started,” trainer John Terranova said.
Funny Guy won half of his six starts and never finished worse than fourth in a 2020 season that did not start until June. The son of Big Brown started 2-for-2 with wins in the Commentator and John Morrissey at Belmont Park and ran second to Firenze Fire in the Grade 2 Vosburgh Invitational on September 26 over Big Sandy. His only two off-the-board efforts came with competitive fourth-place efforts in the Grade 1 Forego presented by America’s Best Racing on August 29 at Saratoga Race Course over a sloppy and sealed track and in the Empire Classic Handicap when stretched out to 1 1/8 miles on October 24 at Belmont.
“Distance-wise, it’s just right,” Terranova said. “I’m just happy to have him happy and sound and I’m looking forward to starting the season with him and having some fun. We’re certainly proud of what he accomplished last year and he’s great to be around in the barn. We’re grateful we have some nice owners behind him and that we continue to have good opportunities to run him.”
Jockey Manny Franco will pick up the mount for the first time, breaking from the inside post.
Celtic Chaos, bred by Spendthrift Farm, will return to stakes company for the first time since being claimed by trainer Rudy Rodriguez for $40,000 out of a winning effort at the Saratoga summer meet. After running second and third at Belmont and Aqueduct, respectively, in optional claiming races, the now 8-year-old son of Dublin will make his first stakes appearance since running fifth in the John Morrissey in July.
Owned by La Marca Stable, Frank Witz and Rodriguez, Celtic Chaos is a 10-time career winner in 44 starts. Jorge Vargas, Jr. will be in the irons from post 5.
“He came back out of the last race pretty good and looks solid,” Rodriguez said. “He always tries. If you give him the time, he gives you big efforts. He likes the distance. I’m hoping he can duplicate the last effort and get a piece of it. He’s a warrior. To run like this at 7 and 8 years old, you don’t see that many that compete at that level.”
Trainer Michelle Nevin will enter a pair of contenders in My Boy Tate and Our Last Buck.
My Boy Tate, bred by Nevin and co-owned with Little Red Feather Racing, was fifth in last year’s Say Florida Sandy edition and is coming off a fast turnaround with a fourth-place effort in the 6 ½-furlong Gravesend last Saturday.
Running back just seven days later, My Boy Tate will get another opportunity to challenge Funny Guy, as the duo ran 1-2 in the NYSSS Thunder Rumble. Prior to that effort, the gelded son of Boys At Tosconova bested allowance company going seven furlongs at Parx on September 23.
Jose Lezcano will be aboard from post 3.
Our Last Buck will be making his stakes debut in his 7-year-old bow, stepping up in class after compiling a career record of 5-3-2 in 17 starts. Owned by J and N Stables and bred by Gerardus S. Jameson, Our Last Buck topped allowance company by 1 1/2 lengths on December 12 in a one-turn mile at Aqueduct. Kendrick Carmouche, the leading riding at the Aqueduct winter meet, drew the assignment and will break from post 2.
Rounding out the field is Runningwscissors, bred by DB Dojo, who ended his 4-year-old year with back-to-back wins at Aqueduct. Owned and trained by Jeffrey Englehart, the Congaree gelding will compete in a stakes for the first time since June 2019, drawing post 4 with Dylan Davis aboard.
The Say Florida Sandy is slated as Race 3 on Aqueduct’s nine-race program, which offers a first post of 12:20 p.m. Eastern.
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