Funny Cide, winner of the 2003 Kentucky Deby and Preakness has died from colic complications. The gelding spent his last years at the Hall of Champions at the Kentucky Horse Park when he passed away. He was 23 years old.
Known as “The Gutsy Gelding,” Funny Cide was a crowd favorite, becoming the first gelding in 75 years to win a Kentucky Derby back in 2003 and the first New York-bred horse to win the Derby. He went on to win the Preakness Stakes, but was injured in the Belmont Stakes and finished third. Despite his injury, Funny Cide had a long and successful career. He won 10 of his 19 starts, and he earned over $6.7 million in prize money. He was named Champion 3 Year Old and NY Horse of the Year. Funny Cide was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2013.
While it’s not unusual for racehorses to be gelded, that doesn’t hold true for high-value horses that run in the Triple Crown races. For most horses gelding is done for behavior modification and is typically done for a horse that’s difficult to train.
Funny Cide was a chryptorchid — born with an undescended testicle — and his trainers thought the abnormality was creating discomfort during racing so he was gelded for medical reasons.
For about a year following Funny Cide’s retirement, he could be seen on the Saratoga track in the mornings, being ridden as a lead pony by his trainer, Barclay Tagg.
Funny Cide was retired shortly after his victory in the Wadsworth Memorial Handicap at Finger Lakes on July 4, 2007. The track’s normal capacity was 6,000, but a crowd of more than 12,000 turned up to watch him.
Funny Cide was a hugely popular attraction at the Kentucky Horse Park although he was sometimes described cranky.
“Mostly, he just wants to be left in peace,” said Robin Bush, who has been one of Funny Cide’s chief caretakers since his arrival at the Hall of Champions in December 2008. “He’ll let you mess with him, but you kind of have a time limit before he starts to get cranky about it. So we try to accommodate his sensitivity, and we don’t take too long grooming him. You have to accommodate his personality, but I don’t let him run roughshod over me. We’ve just come to an understanding with each other. That understanding, Bush says, includes a Grooming Compromise: Funny Cide will tolerate being brushed if Bush allows him to eat hay at the same time.