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Breeders' Cup 2017

D' Funnybone, Discreetly Mine Top King's Bishop

D’ Funnybone and Discreetly Mine have met twice, and twice D’ Funnybone has emerged victorious. Yet despite those victories – in the Grade 2 Futurity last fall at Belmont Park and the Grade 2 Woody Stephens in June at the same track – horse racing often is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately game.


What Discreetly Mine has done lately is look like a colt in contention for a sprint championship in devastating back-to-back victories in the Grade 3 Jersey Shore Stakes at Monmouth Park and Grade 2 Amsterdam on August 2 at Saratoga. D’ Funnybone, meantime, was last seen finishing second at 1-9 in the Grade 2 Carry Back at Calder.


The two meet again at a crossroads Saturday for a critical showdown in the 26th running of the Grade 1, $250,000 King’s Bishop at Saratoga Race Course. The seven-furlong sprint test for 3-year-olds drew a field of seven, including Grade 3 Derby Trial winner Hurricane Ike and the Bob Baffert-trained speedball Bulldogger.


The King’s Bishop is one of three Grade 1 races, along with the Ballerina, on the card for the 141st running of the $1 million Travers Stakes, the 1 ¼-mile “Mid-Summer Derby.”

After a front-running victory in the Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds in February, trainer Todd Pletcher thought he had a Classics contender in Paul Robsham Stables’ Discreetly Mine. Pletcher wound up winning the Kentucky Derby with Super Saver, while Discreetly Mine labored home 13th.


Pletcher decided a cutback in distance was in order, and Discreetly Mine raced well in defeat to D’ Funnybone in the Woody Stephens. His next two races, however, showed he had really adapted to the sprint game, particularly his 8 ¾-length blowout win in the Amsterdam.


“We were trying to identify what his best distance is,” Pletcher said of the move to sprints. “He can win at a variety of distances.”


Pletcher now believes Discreetly Mine merits consideration as the top sprinter in the country.


“He could be,” the trainer said. “This race could set him up for the Breeders’ Cup. We like what we’re seeing.”


While Discreetly Mine is the 6-5 morning-line favorite from post position 4 under John Velazquez, Paul Pompa Jr.’s D’ Funnybone is proven against him, both times at the King’s Bishop distance of seven furlongs. In fact, D’ Funnybone, the 5-2 second choice, is unbeaten in four starts at the distance.


“I’ve got to figure we’re as live as [Discreetly Mine] is,” D’ Funnybone’s trainer, Richard Dutrow Jr. said. “I’m not afraid of running against him again. He’s probably a better horse than when D’ Funnybone beat him, but I would expect he would beat him again.”


Pompa also is confident.

“He was a big favorite at Calder and wasn’t able to get it done,” he said of D’ Funnybone, who will be ridden by Hall of Famer Edgar Prado from post position 3. “Maybe it was the weather, but since he’s gotten up to Saratoga, he’s really been on his toes.”


In each of D’ Funnybone’s seven-furlong victories, he has stalked the pace and rolled by the leader. The leader in the King’s Bishop is likely to be Hal and Patti Earnhardt’s Bulldogger, who is exiting a scorching front-running allowance score at six furlongs August 14 at Saratoga.


“He came out of his race really well,” Baffert said of Bulldogger, 5-1 on the morning line from post 5 with Martin Garcia aboard. “He’s speed. He’s one-dimensional. He’s coming back quick, but he’s training well. I was hoping for a three-horse field.”


Hurricane Ike, making his first start since winning the Derby Trial on April 24, figures to be forwardly placed in the field. The colt, owned by Ike and Dawn Thrash, was set for a run in the Preakness before coming down with a hind-end injury.


Now back to sprinting, he showed himself quite capable at seven furlongs in chasing the fast and talented Eightyfiveinafifty around the track in the Bay Shore.


“We brought him back to California, got him right and he’s training well,” trainer John Sadler said. “I don’t think the layoff is a problem, I think the quality is going to be more of a question. The two elite horses in there are very good.”


Hurricane Ike drew post 2 with Calvin Borel aboard at 6-1 on the morning line.


Southern Equine Stable’s In Jack’s Memory challenged Discreetly Mine in the Amsterdam and finished third, beaten by 10 ¼ lengths.


“I’m trying to run third,” said trainer Eric Guillot. “I have (In Jack’s Memory’s) momma, the sister and the (dam’s) in foal. He’s Grade 2 placed. If I can run third in a Grade 1, it will be a win-win for me. He’ll go long eventually.”


With Miguel Mena up, In Jack’s Memory drew post position 6 at 20-1 on the morning line.


Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who decided to run his rising star Trappe Shot in the Travers rather than the King’s Bishop, has a capable-looking backup in Darley Stable’s Bank Merger, a stone-closer undefeated in two starts who is 8-1 on the morning line. He will be ridden by Alan Garcia from post position 6


“It was a 12th-hour decision to go in there,” McLaughlin said. “They might go (fractions of) 21, 43 and then be looking to lay down later. So, we said let’s take a look. He’s 2-for-2…he comes from way back. So we’ll see what happens.”

The field is completed by Thoroughbred Legends Racing Stable’s Latigo Shore, fourth for trainer Nick Zito in the Amsterdam. Latigo Shore, 20-1, leaves from the rail with Ramon Dominguez up.


The King’s Bishop is the 11th race on Saturday’s program, with a scheduled 5:10 p.m. post time.


The field for the Grade 1, $250,000 King’s Bishop:









Latigo Shore (KY)

R A Dominguez


N P Zito



Hurricane Ike (FL)

C H Borel


J W Sadler



D' Funnybone (FL)

E S Prado


R E Dutrow, Jr.



Discreetly Mine (KY)

J R Velazquez


T A Pletcher



Bulldogger (KY)

M Garcia


B Baffert



Bank Merger (KY)

A Garcia


K P McLaughlin



In Jack's Memory (KY)

M Mena


E J Guillot






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