Funny Cide Gets the Last Laugh

This July 4th marks the one-year anniversary of Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide's last race. The champion didn't rest on his laurels, though: just 48 hours after crossing the finish line for the last time, Funny Cide found himself employed in the same industry, but with a different job title. He became a pony horse.

Funny Cide won $3,529,412 in his amazing career. He carries wins in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness on his résumé. On July 4, 2007, he won the Wadsworth Memorial Handicap. So why the career change?

Trainer Barclay Tagg explained Funny Cide's retirement: still perfectly sound, the 7-year-old gelding had done plenty for the owners of Sackatoga Stable.

Retired Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide and Robin Smullen

Retired Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide with Robin Smullen.

Robin Smullen, assistant trainer to Tagg, supported the career change.

"Once a horse has led the life of the racetrack, it's hard to give that up," she said. "He would be unhappy in the pasture and never understand why he was just standing around.

"He enjoys being out here on the track," said Smullen, who has ridden Funny Cide almost every day since September of his 2-year-old year.

Funny Cide's pony job is not honorary. He works hard. He goes out with six or seven sets of racehorses every training day. Some of his "students" require him to jog the entire track with them. Smullen noted that Funny Cide can read his equine pupils well and knows which youngster to be firm with and which to handle more gently.

Then there are situations that require the former competitor to stand patiently and watch. His intelligence aids him in his work.

Is Funny Cide aware of the difference in his occupation? "Absolutely," is Smullen's quick response.

The decision to reassign Funny Cide from the CEO level to a more blue-collar position was the right one for the horse, she said.

"Sure, it's a business," Smullen observed, "but I've got 40 children out there in the barn and I want them to be happy."

Happy anniversary, Funny Cide.

About the Author

Marsha Hayes

Marsha Hayes has been covering endurance, trail, and other equine topics since 2005. She believes every horse has a story.

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