by Tommy Raymond
Calumet Farm’s Funny Duck was largely dismissed by the betting public at 39-1 for Saturday’s $300,000 Pat Day Mile Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs. In the end, however, the Rusty Arnold-conditioned colt got the last laugh as he scored an emphatic 4 3/4-length victory beneath Brian Hernandez Jr.
Funny Duck actually stumbled at the start of the sloppy, sealed-track affair and was only in 12th place as Lombo sped through splits of :22.31 and :45.53. The front runner gave up his lead to New York Central as the six-furlong point was hit in 1:11.17.
Meanwhile, Funny Duck was saving ground along the rail and passing horses one by one. During the stretch, Hernandez waited for an opening, swung the chestnut outside of New York Central, passed the gray with authority and stopped the clock in 1:37.16. To those who had faith, the son of Distorted Humor rewarded $81.40 for his efforts.
New York Central held off third-placed Givemeaminit by a length, and following them under the wire were Sporting Chance, Shane Zain, Lombo, Seahenge, 5-2 favorite Mask, Mississippi, Madison’s Luna, Smart Remark, Restoring Hope, Greyvitos and National Flag.
After Funny Duck’s recent unplaced effort while making his stakes bow in the April 6 Transylvania Stakes (G3) over Keeneland’s turf, Arnold was leaning toward keeping the colt to the grass. But a conversation with the owner changed that.
“Mr. (Brad) Kelley (of Calumet) called and said, ’No, I’d like to try him on the dirt again,’ and we said OK, and we tried him on the dirt again,” Arnold explained. “So he gets all the credit because we would have been in the turf race.”
Bred in the Bluegrass State by SF Bloodstock LLC, Funny Duck was produced by the stakes-winning Seattle Slew mare Slow Down. His second dam, Corrazona, captured the Beverly Hills Handicap (G1) in 1994.
With the score, Funny Duck has now amassed $214,040 in earnings to go along with a record of 7-2-2-0.