Recurring back problem to blame

ELMONT, N.Y. - Funny Cide's troubled 5-year-old season is over.

A recurring back problem has forced trainer Barclay Tagg to pull Funny Cide out of training for a minimum of 30 days. He will be pointed to a 6-year-old campaign.

Funny Cide, the champion 3-year-old of 2003, went winless in three starts this year, including a sixth-place finish in the Suburban Handicap, his last start, on July 2. According to Robin Smullen, Tagg's assistant and Funny Cide's regular exercise rider, Funny Cide has had back issues since the Brooklyn, a race in which he was checked sharply entering the far turn en route to a fourth-place finish.

The back problem got worse during the early part of the Saratoga meet after Funny Cide worked two half-miles. After some time off, Funny Cide showed three more works between Aug. 29 and Sept. 5 before the back started to become an issue again.

"He's had a recurring thoracic lumbar problem since the Brooklyn,'' Smullen said. "We would get it good enough to breeze and coming out of the breezes it reoccurs and he's sore again. We work on it and we get it better through acupuncture and therapy and we would get to the next breeze, we breeze him again and he takes two steps backwards. Simon [Harris] breezed him and said he has never felt a horse move as well as he's moving and that afternoon we would jog him down the shed row and he just looked terrible.''

Smullen said Funny Cide would get a minimum of 30 days away from the track and would walk the shed row and be turned out in the round pen. He will also continue to undergo acupuncture and other therapeutic work.

"Until we get his muscles healed and until there's no sensitivity in it on palpation then we will put him back in training after that,'' Smullen said. "We don't know how long that's going to be. We're going to start with 30 days and reevaluate in 30 days but it might be 60 days. Who knows?''