LOUISVILLE, KY – Calumet Farm’s Funny Duck led a trio of longshots across the wire to completely cannonball the toteboard and kill many bettors’ multi-race wager tickets in Saturday’s Grade 3, $300,000 Pat Day Mile Stakes presented by LG&E and KU at Churchill Downs.
Breaking from post 4 at odds of nearly 40-1 under Brian Hernandez, Jr., Funny Duck stumbled over the sloppy dirt surface and saved early ground near the rear while Lombo and Smart Remark set splits of :22.31 and :45.53. Advancing well through the far turn, Funny Duck brushed the rail just past the 1/2-mile marker before shifting out and splitting horses near the top of the stretch. Once in the clear, the Rusty Arnold trainee collared new leader New York Central and kicked away voraciously, hitting the wire first by 4 3/4 lengths in a final time of 1:37.16.
“We had a great trip,” said Hernandez, Jr. “We just went out there. There was no pressure with the horse. He stumbled a bit leaving there. I think it worked to his advantage because when he got up, he turned off for me. We were able to find a nice, smooth rail trip and had to go around only one horse. He traveled like a winner the whole way. It was a great race for him.”
Though the winner caught him in the stretch, New York Central held on well for second at 31-1 by a length over Givemeaminit at odds of 22-1, giving a $0.50 trifecta payout of $8,569.25. Sporting Chance ran eight-wide late from the rear to take fourth by 3/4 of a length past Shane Zain. Lombo faded to sixth ahead of Seahenge and the 5-2 favorite Mask, while Mississippi headed Madison’s Luna for ninth. Smart Remark, Restoring Hope, Greyvitos, and National Flag completed the order of finish.
Funny Duck’s win was his first graded stakes score in his second attempt, following a seventh last out in the Grade 3 Transylvania Stakes over the Keeneland turf. The 3-year-old son of Distorted Humor, out of a Seattle Slew mare, was making only his second career start on dirt following a seventh in his debut here on September 7. With the winner’s share of $169,260, Funny Duck’s career bankroll increased to $214,040 for Brad Kelley, who purchased the colt for $110,000 as a 2-year-old.
“Mr. Kelley called and said ‘I would like to try this horse on the dirt again,’” said Arnold. “We were set for running him in a turf race, and he said, ‘No, I’d like to try him on the dirt again,’ and we said OK, and we tried him on the dirt again. So he gets all the credit because we would have been in the turf race.
“We love the horse,” Arnold continued. “He had really become leaps and bounds better through the winter. His last race, he had some traffic issues, and we liked the horse, but he got good on the turf, and some trainers tend to stick with it, and when he said to go to the dirt, we did. He had a great work here last week. We do think he likes the mud, too, so it worked out great.”
Funny Duck returned $81.40 to win, $36.60 to place, and $14.20 to show. New York Central brought back $27.80 to place and $12.40 to show, while Givemeaminit paid $10 to show.