Funny Cide, the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, dies at 23

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FILE - Jockey Jose Santos celebrates aboard Funny Cide after crossing the finish line to win the 129th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 3, 2003, in Louisville, Ky. Cide, the Gutsy Gelding who became a fan favorite after winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 2003, has died of complications resulting from colic on Sunday, July 16, 2023. He was 23. (AP Photo/Al Behrman, File)

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Funny Cide, the “Gutsy Gelding” who became a fan favorite after winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 2003, has died from complications of colic. He was 23.

Kentucky Horse Park, the Lexington farm where Funny Cide lived for his final 15 years, confirmed the thoroughbred died Sunday, as did Sackatoga Stable, the group of 10 friends from a small town in upstate New York who owned the gelding.

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“We are heartbroken at the news of Funny Cide’s passing this morning. What a ride The Gutsy Gelding took us on winning @KentuckyDerby & @PreaknessStakes. We are so grateful to @KyHorsePark for giving our guy a wonderful retirement. To say we will miss him, is an understatement,” the stable tweeted.

Funny Cide won 11 of 38 starts and earned $3,529,412 in his career. The gelding was undefeated in three starts as a 2-year-old. While he lost his first three starts the following year, the last one was a half-length loss to eventual Kentucky Derby favorite Empire Maker in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct in New York.

Trained by Barclay Tagg, Funny Cide went to the Kentucky Derby and stunned the horse racing world by beating Empire Maker by 1 1/2 lengths at odds of nearly 13-1. It made him the first New York-bred horse to win the Derby. Two weeks later, jockey Jose Santos and Funny Cide scored an almost 10-length victory in the Preakness to move a step closer to the Triple Crown.

On a miserable, rainy day in New York City three weeks later, 101,562 fans came to watch Funny Cide's bid for thoroughbred history. However, Empire Maker got his revenge and Funny Cide finished third, about five lengths behind the winner.

The stable gained attention because its members would attend Funny Cide's races by traveling in a school bus to the track where he was running.


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