By Ryan Martin
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Gatsas Stables, R. A. Hill Stable and Swick Stable’s Funny Guy returned to his winning ways, displaying a devastating turn-of-foot in the final half-furlong to overtake defending winner My Boy Tate in Sunday’s 13th running of the $100,000 NYSSS Thunder Rumble for eligible New York-sired 3-year-olds and upward going seven furlongs over the main track at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by John Terranova and reunited with jockey Joel Rosario, Funny Guy made his first trip to the winner’s circle since capturing the John Morrissey on July 30 at Saratoga Race Course. He arrived at the Thunder Rumble off a fourth-place finish in the Empire Classic as the beaten favorite.
Breaking from post 3, Funny Guy secured a spot in fourth as 21-1 longshot Binkster led the field through opening fractions of 23.59 and 47.53 seconds on the fast main track.
Around the far turn, Funny Guy was in search of racing room, but Rosario tipped his charge five wide approaching the quarter pole as My Boy Tate took command at the top of the stretch. Funny Guy, six lengths back with plenty to do, found a new gear past the sixteenth-pole and ran down My Boy Tate in the last few strides to win by a neck in a final time of 1:23.57.
My Boy Tate finished another two lengths ahead of Bankit. T Loves a Fight, who missed the break, and Binkster completed the order of finish.
The Thunder Rumble was a fifth stakes triumph for Funny Guy, who returned $3.60 as the 4-5 favorite and upped his steady lifetime record to 16-6-5-0 and earnings to $617,645. He has defeated his Empire State-bred counterpart at distances ranging from 6 ½ furlongs to 1 1/8 miles. He made his 2020 debut a winning one when defeating New York-bred millionaires Pat On the Back and Mr. Buff in the one-mile Commentator on June 12 at Belmont Park, where he registered a career-best 101 Beyer Speed Figure.
Rosario said he wasn’t sure his horse would get up in time.
“Turning for home, they got away from me a little bit. I knew he was running but I had to come out a little bit because I wasn’t sure what Irad [Ortiz, Jr. aboard No. 5. Bankit] was going to do,” said Rosario, who has piloted Funny Guy to his three stakes triumphs this season. “I pointed him to the outside in case the horses inside came out and I let him stretch his legs from there. For a second, I thought the other horse was going to get away but the last part he gave me everything he had. It was a good performance.”
Terranova praised his multiple stakes winner.
“He’s got some gears,” Terranova said. “Once he got him into that rhythm, he was able to kick. He had to work on him but he’s as honest as they come. The pace didn’t really unfold early, but I think you can attribute that to the fact this track is a little bit loose and deeper. He’s a big, heavy colt and he likes a little quicker surface you can bounce off of. It took a little bit to get him going and get his feet, but he sure got into the gear when he needed it at the end.”
Terranova said he hasn’t thought past Sunday’s race and will allow the horse to give him signs of when he’s ready for his next start.
“We’ll see for the winter and how he comes back off of this one,” Terranova said. “Everything we’ve done with him; we’ve let him tell us. He’ll tell us what he’s ready for next.”
Bred in New York by Hibiscus Stables, Funny Guy is by 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown and out of the multiple stakes-winning Distorted Humor mare Heavenly Humor. He was purchased for $45,000 from the OBS March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training in 2018, where he was consigned by Mayberry Farm.
NYSSS Thunder Rumble Replay
Live racing resumes on Friday at the Big A, highlighted by the Grade 3, $100,000 Comely for 3-year-old fillies, the $100,000 Forever Together for fillies and mares 3-years-old and upward over the turf, and the $100,000 Gio Ponti for 3-year-old colts on the turf. First post is 11:50 a.m.
Photo: Funny Guy (Susie Raisher)