Of all the good racing this weekend, including the Hollywood Gold Cup, Man o' War, and Princess Rooney (all grade I), one of the races I will most look forward to is the Carry Back Stakes at Calder. Though it only a grade III sprint with a short field of five, the headliner is D' Funnybone, who is quickly emerging into a superstar.
D' Funnybone has already won five graded stakes in nine starts and earned over $600,000. Purchased privately by the sharp-eyed Paul Pompa Jr., the same guy who bought Big Brown as a 2-year-old and later campaigned him in partnership to win two legs of the 2008 Triple Crown, D' Funnybone will be the odds-on favorite to win the Carry Back, which could already be his fourth graded stakes victory of the season.
Though D' Funnybone is not yet a grade I winner and all of his wins have come at seven furlongs or less, I do not think it is out of the realm of possibility that he could become the first sprinter to be named champion 3-year-old male. I know it's a longshot, but hear me out.
Assuming he wins the Carry Back for his fourth graded win of the year (his other graded wins have come in the Hutcheson, Swale, and Woody Stephens-all grade II), D' Funnybone would move on to Saratoga. There, according to Pompa, he will go for his grade I in the King's Bishop, a seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds on Aug. 28.
After that he could go to the grade I Vosburgh at Belmont in September or just go straight to the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Churchill in November. If--and it is a large if--D' Funnybone could sweep the board, that would complete a phenomenal season in which he would have won six of seven or seven of eight races, including two or three in grade I company. That would be an extraordinary year by any standards.
Throughout history, the champion 3-year-old male has gone to horses that have won Triple Crown races or races at classic distances. As far as I know, there has never been a sprinter that has been named champion 3-year-old male, certainly not since the Eclipse Awards began in 1971 and there has been a seperate category for champion sprinters. But this is an unusual season with no stand out 3-year-old. And for that reason there is a chance it could happen.
For D' Funnybone to pull of the unlikely victory, not only must he win the aforementioned races, but he needs a lot of other things to happen. First of all, Super Saver, Lookin at Lucky, and Drosselmeyer cannot win any of the summer classics or a BC race. If that happens, he has no chance.
But let's say a horse other than those three wins the Haskell, and then a different horse wins the Travers. That is not an impossible task considering there are some very good, late-blooming 3YOs (First Dude, Fly Down, Ice Box, Winslow Homer, Concord Point, Paddy O'Prado, Game On Dude, Afleet Express, Trappe Shot, etc.) .
And now let's assume no 3YO wins the BC Classic, which is probably an even better possibility. What do we have left? We have a nearly completed season with still no stand out sophomore. No stand out except for D' Funnybone.
It could happen. Remember, it was just last year that Gio Ponti won dual Eclipse Awards, including champion older horse which is rarely given to a turf runner. Could D' Funnybone be champion sprinter and champion 3YO?