Four-time stakes-winner Funny Guy will look for continued success on the New York Racing Association circuit as he targets the Grade 2, $150,000 Kelso on Oct. 3 at Belmont Park, trainer John Terranova said Wednesday morning.
The 4-year-old son of Big Brown ran twice during the just-concluded summer meet at Saratoga Race Course, posting a two-length score in the seven-furlong John Morrissey for New York breds on July 30 before running a competitive fourth, just 2 1/2-lengths back to victor Win Win Win in the Grade 1 Forego on Aug. 29 over a sloppy and sealed track.
Funny Guy breezed four furlongs in 48.61 seconds on the Belmont main track on Monday.
"We're possibly looking at the Kelso right now, but nothing's set for sure," Terranova said. "He's doing great and will get back to a more serious work next weekend. Everything's good. He came out of Saratoga really well, so we're happy about that."
The 27-day Belmont fall meet, which starts Friday, Sept. 18, and runs through Sunday, Nov. 1, will encompass 38 stakes worth $5.58 million.
Among those stakes is the 40th running of the one-mile Kelso, where Funny Guy will look to win for the third time in his last four starts. Owned by Gatsas Stables, R.A. Hill Stable and Swick Stable, Funny Guy returned off a nearly nine-month layoff by impressively winning the 1-mile Commentator on June 12 at Belmont. His rally from seventh to first earned him his first career triple digit Beyer Speed Figure at 101, and he followed with another win against state-breds in the John Morrissey. Terranova said he is also hopeful for better conditions than the Forego, which was run during a driving rainstorm.
"It was just unfortunate conditions in his last race that hampered not just us but a few horses," he added. "But he came out of it really well and we'll see as we go over the next few weeks what's next. The rain was so torrential and so extreme that day and the trip he had, he had to check a couple of times and was probably on the worst part of the track throughout most of the race and it hampered the outcome for him and a few others, but he came out of it well."
Funny Guy, bred by Hibiscus Stables, will now look to run in consecutive graded stakes for the first time in his career. He is 5-4-0 in 13 career starts with earnings of $523,145. He has won a stakes race at all three NYRA tracks, including the 2019 Albany at Saratoga and the New York Stallion Stakes Series Times Square in April 2019 at Aqueduct Racetrack during closing day of the spring meet.
Long Lake Stable's Stan the Man also will return off a success at the Spa, staying at the back of the pack before closing strong to win the five-horse Tale of the Cat on Aug. 20. The 6-year-old Broken Vow gelding entered that contest with momentum following a runner-up finish — by 1 1/2 lengths — to the accomplished Firenze Fire in the Grade 2 True North on June 27 over Big Sandy.
Terranova said Stan the Man, who won the Queens Country in December at the Big A, does not have his next start mapped out yet.
"Nothing definite for him just yet but he's in great shape so we'll see as we go the next couple of weeks what we have in mind for him," Terranova said.
Stan the Man is nominated to the Grade 2, $150,000 Vosburgh, a "Win and You're In" contest for the Breeders' Cup Sprint, on Sept. 26, but Terranova said that spot might be coming up too quickly.
"I'm not really set on that but you never know, we'll see how he comes back from the works over the weekend and how the race ends up looking, but I'm not sure yet," Terranova said.
Gatsas Stables' Backtohisroots could return to stakes company after three consecutive in-the-money finishes against optional claimers since June. The 4-year-old Mark Valeski colt has gradually improved, running third at six furlongs over the Belmont turf on June 12 before running second at 5 1/2 furlongs over the Saratoga grass on July 29. Last Out, Backtohisroots posted his first win since 2018, drawing away by 2 1/2 lengths to win at the same distance on Aug. 28.
His previous victory, the 2018 Atlantic Beach at Aqueduct that was moved off the turf, marked Backtohisroots lone stakes win. His previous stakes appearance came earlier this year in the Turf Dash in February at Tampa Bay Downs, where he ran seventh.
Backtohisroots started his career with high hopes on the main track, running second in his debut in June 2018 at Churchill before breaking his maiden at second asking in July of that year at Saratoga. After running seventh in the Hopeful (G1) in September, Terranova moved him to turf, where he ran second in the Futurity that October at Belmont. After the Atlantic Beach score, Backtohisroots has made seven consecutive turf starts and will be pointed to the 6-furlong $150,000 Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational (G3) on Oct. 4.
"He's really in great form and ran a fantastic race last time," Terranova said. "He came out of that really well. He looks to be in great, great shape right now."