April 15, 2024

Funtastic springs 23-1 surprise as Brown’s fourth-stringer in United Nations

United Nations upsetter Funtastic is a half to Saint Liam and an uncle to Gun Runner (c) Ryan Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

Chad Brown trainees could have been expected to fight out the finish of Saturday’s $315,000 United Nations (G1), with the reigning two-time Eclipse champion trainer represented by four of the nine runners in the Monmouth Park prize. But it was the lone outsider of the quartet – indeed the longest shot on the board at 23-1 – Funtastic who upstaged his better fancied stablemates in wire-to-wire fashion.

Second in his only previous stakes attempt in last November’s Gio Ponti S. at Aqueduct, Funtastic was taking a class hike off a front-running allowance score at Belmont Park. That 1 1/2-mile victory assured he had the stamina for the 1 3/8-mile United Nations, but his ability to hold off the rest of the Brown battalion had yet to be proven. Money Multiplier, the 2-1 favorite, as well as 5-2 second choice Kurilov and the 5-1 third pick Silverwave all had obvious claims, not to mention the Ken McPeek-trained Brazilian Vettori Kin and Mike Maker’s pair of defending champion Bigger Picture and Oscar Nominated.

Brown credited Three Chimneys Farm’s Goncalo Torrealba for Funtastic’s aggressive placement in this spot. And the owner-cum-stallion marketer’s angle worked like a charm.

Funtastic has instant stud appeal as a More Than Ready half-brother to 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam. Funtastic’s half-sister Quiet Giant likewise earned her biggest win at Monmouth in the 2011 Molly Pitcher (G2), but we know her better now as the dam of 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner. Funtastic is also a close relative of 2011 Mother Goose (G1) heroine Buster’s Ready, herself by More Than Ready and out of another half to Funtastic.

Sent straight to the lead by new rider Antonio Gallardo, the gray carved out splits of :24.39, :48.89, and 1:13.52 on the firm turf. When he suddenly injected pace through the next quarter, reaching the mile in 1:36.43, Funtastic began to get away from them.

Money Multiplier, a Grade 1 bridesmaid coming off a repeat score in the Monmouth (G2), was the only closer rallying into the picture soon enough to try to avert the upset. But he hadn’t done himself any favors by overracing early, fighting for his head and having to check a few times before settling. Although Money Multiplier leveled off in the homestretch and steadily gained ground, he’d given his stablemate too much rope.

Funtastic held on by a half-length in a final time of 2:12.36, sparking payouts of $48, $15.80 and $8.60. If told in advance that Brown had the exacta, you probably wouldn’t have guessed it was worth $93 (for $1).

Bigger Picture was unleashed too late from last and did well to snatch third from Vettori Kin. Silverwave flattened out in fifth, and Oscar Nominated, Profiteer, Kurilov, and One Go All Go rounded out the order under the wire. The last three finishers had all stalked the pace, and Silverwave improved nearing the final turn, so Funtastic didn’t steal it.

“Highlight of my career,” Gallardo said. “It means so much. I’ve won Grade 2 and Grade 3 races. Now I can say I have won a Grade 1.”

Brown, when asked the last time he trained a turf winner at big odds, couldn’t come up with one.

“I can’t remember. Probably my first year of training.

“I knew it was a tough race. The owner, Goncalo Torrealba, really deserves most of the credit here. He was sure this horse (Funtastic) could stay a distance of ground in the mile and an eighth, mile and a half races, in the Grade 1 class.

“He was doing well and it worked out. Just teamwork and my staff did a fabulous job and Antonio rode a wonderful race to take the initiative out of the gate. He used his horse a little bit early to get that position and then he backed it down just enough to carry him all of the way. I thought it was a really superb ride.

“Money Multiplier looks like he ran good. He got in some trouble and got jammed up early and was throwing his head about. Other than that it seemed like he had a pretty good trip. I need to look at it.”

Funtastic’s scorecard now stands at 9-4-2-1, $384,943. Bred by Besilu Stables in Kentucky, the four-year-old is adding to the legacy of his dam, Grade 2-placed stakes vixen Quiet Dance. The Quiet American mare boasts a perfect record, with all 12 of her runners being winners. In addition to Saint Liam, Quiet Giant, and Funtastic, she has produced Grade 3 victor Congressionalhonor, stakes scorer Dance Quietly, multiple Grade 1-placed Miss Besilu, and Grade 2-placed American Dance. Yet another of her winning offspring, Quiet Now, is the dam of multiple Grade 3-winning turfer Lull.

Brown was turning a turf stakes double on the card after 1-2 favorite Dream Awhile got the job done in the $98,000 Eatontown (G3). Despite knuckling out of the gate, the Joseph Allen homebred regrouped, advanced down the backstretch, and delivered the coup de grace on the far turn. Shug McGaughey’s Special Event reduced the margin to three-quarters of a length, and in so doing, prevented a Brown exacta with the winner’s stablemate Elysea’s World back in third. Elysea’s World was conceding the top two seven pounds apiece as the 123-pound highweight.

Dream Awhile clocked 1 1/16 grassy miles in 1:41.59, and her first graded victory increased her bankroll to $215,706 from a 10-4-1-4 line. The War Front filly began her career with Jean-Claude Rouget in France, where she was twice stakes-placed in last year’s Derby du Midi and Prix Madame Jean Couturie. She earned her stakes laurel in the December 30 Tropical Park Oaks and in the interim placed in the Suwannee River (G3) and Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2).

Kicking off the stakes action was the $95,000 Philip H. Iselin (G3) on the main track, and owner/trainer David Jacobson’s 6-5 favorite Harlan Punch made it look easy on the front end. Jockey Joe Bravo rationed out his speed in a scratch-decimated field with little change in position at every call, until he kicked 5 1/4 lengths clear. The valiant Page McKenney kept on to defeat Backsideofthemoon for runner-up honors. Comebacker Imperative, who stumbled at the break, trailed throughout.

In the $78,000 Lady’s Secret, 2-5 favorite Divine Miss Grey was headed by a big move from Moonlit Garden, but fought back to reclaim the advantage. Trained by Danny Gargan and ridden by Kendrick Carmouche, the 123-pound highweight negotiated 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.72, just a tick off Harlan Punch’s 1:44.53.