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Funny Cide shocks course favourite
Jose Santos aboard Funny Cide gets a hug from trainer Barclay Tagg after winning the Kentucky Derby at the Louisville Saturday (AFP)

Louisville, Kentucky, May 4 (Reuters): Funny Cide, ridden by Jose Santos, held off a late challenge from favorite Empire Maker to win the 129th Kentucky Derby on Saturday and the first jewel of the Triple Crown.

Beaten by Empire Maker and third-place finisher Peace Rules in his last two starts, Funny Cide would not be denied a third time, battling down the stretch to win by a length and three-quarters, becoming the first gelding since Clyde van Dusen in 1929 to take the Run for the Roses.

Purchased by Jackson Knowlton and five high school friends for a modest $22,000, Funny Cide's owners pocket $800,200 for the upset win while trainer Barclay Tagg and Santos celebrated their first Derby successes. ”It's a thrill beyond belief. We are the little guys in the game, everyone who dreams of owning a horse can look at what you can accomplish,” said Knowlton.

”I cannot believe we won the Derby,” said Santos.“But I did think this day would come. ”I watched Secretariat (1973) run and then didn't watch for a long time.

”But when I was 18-years-old I said, one day I'm going to be there and since then had the image I would win the Kentucky Derby and today was the day.” Under Santos's urging, Funny Cide, who went off at odds of about 12-1 in the 16-strong field, took the lead turning into the straight and battled home in a speedy two minutes, 1.19 seconds. Funny Cide will now focus attention on second jewel of the Triple Crown, the Preakness in two weeks.


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