(Funny Guy is a serious contender for Sunday’s Thunder Rumble Stakes / Photo by Elsa Lorieul & Courtesy of NYRA)
From the NYRA Media Team:
R. A. Hill Stable, Gatsas Stables and Swick Stable’s multiple stakes-winner Funny Guy will receive a cutback in distance while seeking a third stakes triumph of the year in Sunday’s 13th running of the $100,000 Thunder Rumble division of the New York Stallion Stakes Series for 3-year-olds and up at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The seven-furlong event over the main track honors Braeburn Farm’s New York-bred millionaire who won the 1992 Jim Dandy and Travers Stakes for trainer Richard O’Connell. Prior to his pair of graded stakes wins, he was a three-time stakes winner at Aqueduct early in his sophomore campaign.
Funny Guy, bred in New York by Hibiscus Stables, boasts a consistent record of 15-5-5-0 with $563,645 in lifetime earnings and has won at distances ranging from 6 ½ furlongs to 1 1/8 miles.
Trained by John Terranova, Funny Guy began his 4-year-old season in style when taking the Commentator against fellow state-breds on June 12 at Belmont Park. Expertly piloted by Joel Rosario, the son of Big Brown secured a rail-riding position early on and began moving into contention approaching the quarter-pole, drawing off to a 1 ¼-length win over multiple-stakes winning millionaires Mr. Buff and Pat On the Back while registering a career-best 101 Beyer Speed Figure. He showed different tactics next out in the restricted John Morrissey at Saratoga, where he was more forwardly placed when tracking a half-length behind the pacesetter and kicked clear to a two-length victory.
Favored in his last three starts, Funny Guy arrives at the NYSSS Thunder Rumble off a fourth-place finish in the 1 1/8-mile Empire Classic, where he finished 6 ½ lengths behind Mr. Buff.
“It wasn’t so much the distance; it was the dynamics of the race,” Terranova said. “He didn’t have a pace to run at. The race didn’t sort out quite the way that we needed it to, but that’s racing. You don’t know what you’ll get and how these races are going to unfold. He came back well, and everything is good. We have an opportunity to run here in the stallion stakes. We’ll where we go from there. He looks really, really good. Everything has been fine with him, so we’re looking forward to running him.”
This season, Funny Guy proved viable against graded stakes company when finishing fourth in a sloppy edition of the Grade 1 Forego presented by America’s Best Racing on August 29 at Saratoga and coming up only 2 ¾ lengths shy of victory, when second to Firenze Fire in the Grade 2 Vosburgh on September 26 at Belmont Park.
“He’s run really well against open company,” Terranova said. “We were ready for the Forego at Saratoga, but we were pretty unfortunate with the sloppy track conditions and what happened with the weather that day. But he came back and ran well.”
Terranova said he has yet to think past Sunday’s race and is unsure as to whether Funny Guy will remain in New York or go to Florida for the winter.
“I do everything by feel and what the horses are telling us,” Terranova said, “If it’s time to give certain ones a break, we will. If there are options to run wherever, we’ll take those.”
Funny Guy, out of the multiple stakes-winning Distorted Humor mare Heavenly Humor, will be piloted by Rosario from post 3.
Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing’s Bankit, second in the Empire Classic, seeks his first victory since last year’s New York Derby at Finger Lakes for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.
The son of Central Banker has kept quality company in his earlier starts this season, when finishing a close second to Warrior’s Charge in the Grade 3 Razorback on February 17 at Oaklawn Park and was third beaten 2 ¾ lengths to Grade 1-winners Tom’s d’Etat and Improbable in the Oaklawn Mile on April 11.
“He almost always shows up,” said Winchell Thoroughbreds racing and bloodstock advisor David Fiske. “He’s a durable guy that’s been fun to have in the barn.”
Fiske said Bankit would be reliant on the right pace scenario upfront for a good chance of securing a victory.
“He comes from off the pace and probably needs the right set up,” Fiske said. “The more speed in front of him, the better off for us.”
Bankit, bred in the Empire State by Hidden Brook Farm and Blue Devil Racing, is out of the Colonel John mare Sister in Arms and was a $260,000 purchase from the 2018 OBS March Sale.
Irad Ortiz, Jr. will be aboard Bankit from post 5.
My Boy Tate will attempt to become the third straight repeat winner of the Thunder Rumble following Loki’s Vengeance [2015-16] and Gold for the King [2017-18].
Owned by trainer and breeder Michelle Nevin with Little Red Feather Racing, the son of Boys At Tosconova emerged off a 13-month layoff to win last year’s Thunder Rumble over a sloppy going by 1 ¾ lengths.
Still in search of his first stakes victory this year, My Boy Tate was stakes-placed three times in 2020, most recently finishing second to Stan the Man in the Tale of the Cat on 20. He last out shipped to Parx Racing on September 23 for a five-length allowance victory going seven furlongs.
My Boy Tate appears to be a horse for course as he has won five of his eight starts over the Big A main track, which include triumphs in the Say Florida Sandy and the Hollie Hughes in 2018.
Breaking from post 4, My Boy Tate will be piloted by Manny Franco.
Noda Brothers’ T Loves a Fight arrives as the most seasoned horse in the field with 43 starts for trainer Orlando Noda.
The 6-year-old son of Girolamo, bred by Hoffman Thoroughbreds, won the 2017 Mike Lee at Belmont Park for former conditioner Michael Hushion and passed through the hands of several trainers before being claimed last May for $10,000 by Noda. Since then, he was made four trips to the winner’s circle and has been stakes-placed six times, including a runner-up finish at 25-1 to Funny Guy in the John Morrissey.
Junior Alvarado will be aboard from post 1.
Completing the field is Dark Horse Racing Stable and Taste of Victory Stable’s Binkster, who seeks his first stakes triumph for trainer Ray Handal.
The son of Bluegrass Cat, bred in New York by Phillip Birsh, dead-heated for third with My Boy Tate in the Tale of the Cat two starts back after finishing second to eventual multiple graded stakes-winner Yaupon in a six-furlong Saratoga allowance tilt on July 18. He was third beaten four lengths in last year’s NYSSS Thunder Rumble to My Boy Tate.
Dylan Davis has been aboard for his last 15 starts and will return from post 2.
The NYSSS Thunder Rumble is slated as Race 3 on Aqueduct’s 10-race program, which offers a first post of 11:50 a.m. Eastern. America’s Day at the Races will present daily television coverage of the Aqueduct fall meet with coverage to air on FOX Sports and MSG Networks.