Paul Pompa Jr.'s D' FUNNYBONE (D'wildcat) found the one turn of Saturday's $150,000 Hutcheson S. (G2) to be right within his wheelhouse, and last year's Saratoga Special S. (G2) and Futurity S. (G2) hero duly got back on the winning track. Rebounding from his debacle in the November 7 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita, the even-money favorite coasted to the front turning for home and went on to finish seven furlongs on Gulfstream Park's fast track in 1:22.
D' Funnybone tracked on the outside in the early going, within hailing distance of the pacesetter Wildcat Frankie (Wildcat Heir) through an opening quarter in :22 1/5. Wildcat Frankie was under ever increasing pressure from Hear Ye Hear Ye (Hear No Evil), who was just a head back while reaching the half-mile in :45.
By this point, D' Funnybone was commencing his move, and he was clearly traveling best of all on the far turn. While Ibboyee (Medallist) was advancing along the rail, and A Little Warm (Stormin Fever) was beginning to gain ground wider out, D' Funnybone was still on the bridle under a motionless Edgar Prado.
Swinging into the stretch, D' Funnybone pulled away from his rivals and was not seriously threatened thereafter. The Rick Dutrow sophomore did not dominate as ruthlessly as he had last year, though. A Little Warm, trained by Tony Dutrow, stayed on determinedly to keep the winner's margin down to a length at the wire.
"He was training very steady for this race, and we were very confident going in," Prado said. "He broke good, and I was always very comfortable. We had a nice outside post, so he was in a good attacking position down the backside, and it was just a matter of turning him loose in the stretch. And when I did, he just took off."
"I'm happy to get him back and run so well off the layoff," the winning trainer said. "He's our next little Benny the Bull (champion male sprinter of 2008). He's a lot like him except for his color. We'll definitely consider the Florida Derby ([G1] on March 20).
"At this point, I'm not ready to concede that his race in the Breeders' Cup (last of 13 after showing speed to far turn) was attributable to the (1 1/16-mile) distance, but rather the track (the Pro-Ride synthetic at Santa Anita). I don't think it was as bad as it may have looked because Edgar (Prado) did the right thing and didn't push on him after a certain point.
"Like any three-year-old at this time of the year, you think about the (Kentucky) Derby (G1), so unless something develops to change my mind, the Florida Derby is likely where he'll go next," Rick Dutrow concluded.
D' Funnybone returned $4.20, $2.80 and $2.40 while keying the $10.80 Dutrow brothers' exacta, $59.80 trifecta and $333 superfecta (7-8-3-6). A Little Warm, the nearly 5-2 second choice, paid $3 and $2.60 for his commendable runner-up effort. Ibboyee kept on for third, another length adrift, and yielded $3.40 as the nearly 12-1 fifth choice. Hear Hear Hear Ye, City Trooper (City Zip), Wildcat Frankie and Sum Champ (Champali) completed the order of finish. Rick Dutrow's other entrant, Radiohead (GB) (Johannesburg), was scratched.
D' Funnybone boosted his bankroll to $368,200 from his 6-4-1-0 line. Originally co-owned by breeder Harold Plumley, M. Plumley and trainer Joseph Calascibetta, he was an impressive, 7 1/4-length debut maiden winner going 4 1/2 furlongs at Calder in late May. Next time out, D' Funnybone was embroiled in a speed duel in the Frank Gomez Memorial S. at Calder, held the lead late, and was just outfinished by Jackson Bend (Hear No Evil) by a half-length. He was subsequently purchased by Pompa and transferred to Rick Dutrow.
In his first start for his new connections in the Saratoga Special, he blew the doors off seven overmatched rivals to win by 10 1/2 lengths. D' Funnybone came back to take the Futurity by 4 3/4 lengths, but threw in the worst effort of his career in the aforementioned Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
The Florida-bred was produced by the winning Woodman mare Elbow, making him a half-brother to stakes victress and Grade 2-placed Dr. Kathy (Polish Numbers) and an unnamed yearling colt by Pomeroy. D' Funnybone's third dam is Top Flight H. (G1) heroine Chain Bracelet (Lyphard). The family also includes Selene S. (Can-G1) winner Zoftig (Cozzene), herself the dam of Acorn S. (G1) winner Zaftig (Gone West), and further back, champions Swale (Seattle Slew) and Forty Niner (Mr. Prospector).