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Friday, June 6, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Horse Racing

Funny Cide's triumphs boost interest in sire

VERSAILLES, Ky. — Doug Cauthen's name has helped him in the bloodstock industry. Now he's able to drop the hottest name in horse racing — Funny Cide.

Cauthen is the brother of Steve Cauthen, the jockey who rode Affirmed, the last Triple Crown winner, in 1978. Doug Cauthen also is the president of WinStar Farm, where Distorted Humor — Funny Cide's sire — stands at stud.

Because Funny Cide is a gelding, breeding interest that results from his Triple Crown bid will fall on Distorted Humor.

Funny Cide never will corral the millions of dollars earned by champions at stud, but had he not been gelded — due to an undescended testicle — he might have never won a race, experts say. Castration generally makes a horse sleeker and easier to train.

Cauthen is not only rooting for Funny Cide to win the Belmont Stakes and complete the Triple Crown tomorrow, he's hoping the horse will continue to race for years.

"Now, we've got a walking advertisement in Funny Cide," Cauthen said. "If he stays sound, he'll be around another five years, maybe, so every time he does something good, it reminds people, 'Distorted Humor, Distorted Humor.' Which was our goal, because that was our payoff."

Cauthen found it challenging to search for mares to breed to the stallion when he began syndicating Distorted Humor. The same year, top stallions including Touch Gold, Awesome Again, Favorite Trick, Grand Slam and Tale of the Cat entered the breeding market.

"All but one was a Grade I winner and were really well bred," Cauthen said. "We were kind of the blue-collar brother, and they were more on the fast track as far as commercially appreciated stallions."

An Oklahoma-bred mare, Belle's Good Cide — a granddaughter of 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew — was already at the farm, then known as Prestonwood. She was bred to Distorted Humor, then sent to New York to give birth, along with seven other mares the farm owned and had bred to Distorted Humor.

Included in that group of foals are graded stakes winners Funny Cide and Go Rockin' Robin. The foals are considered New York-bred because they were born there.

Funny Cide's first two career wins came in races exclusively for New York-breds.

"It was a marketing idea which has worked out well," Cauthen said.

In good part because of the success of Funny Cide and Awesome Humor — another Grade I stakes winner — Distorted Humor became the nation's No. 1 freshman sire in 2002. His stud fee the first year was $12,500, Cauthen said. It dipped to $10,000 last year but rose to $20,000 this year, "and that was very, very reasonable," Cauthen said.

With this year's breeding season winding down, Distorted Humor was already "fully subscribed," Cauthen said.

Next year, Cauthen expects the price to be "at a minimum" $50,000 and possibly as much as $100,000.

Copyright © 2003 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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