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Funny Cide: How A Horse, A Trainer, A Jockey and A Bunch of High School Buddies Took on the Sheiks and Bluebloods ... and Won Hardcover – 4 Nov 2004

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About the Author

Sally Jenkins is an award-winning journalist for The Washington Post and is the co-author of the best selling It's Not About the Bike and Every Second Counts, written with Lance Armstrong. She lives in New York. Sackatoga Stable is owned by ten people, led by managing partner Jackson Knowlton. Unlike Funny Cide's million-dollar bretheren, who make a quick killing and then get retired to stud, they plan to race their horse for all his fans to see as long as he is healthy and happy conceivably for years to come.

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Any sorehead disbeliever who questions the abilities of nature would do well to spend time in a horse barn. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 30 reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
By Gail Cooke - Published on
Format: Audio Cassette
Everyone loves a winner, especially when the winner is an underdog. That was certainly the case with Funny Cide, the never-heard-of gelding who won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness thus almost copping the fabled Triple Crown. Yep, America loved him.
The resonant voice of Dan Cushman chronicles Funny Cide's amazing story from starting gate to finish. Of course, it's not just a horse's story but also the tale of friends, including a trainer and a jockey who were determined to win a race.
No one in this All-American story is a blue blood, not the racehorse or the men behind Funny Cide. They were blue collar workers from Sackets Harbor, New York (little more than a village with 1,386 residents) who pooled their resources to fund a small stable. They had a dream and, by golly, they were going after it.
All who loved "Seabiscuit" will root for Funny Cide and the men who believed they'd found a winner.
- Gail Cooke
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Funny Cide, the best gelding of the 21st century 8 Mar. 2005
A Kid's Review - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Funny Cide was an exceptional racehorse. The gelding came out of nowhere to win the Kentucky derby! that's worth writing about. His story was closely followed in a way that you cannot see on television or read in the newspapers everything that happened. A great book to read. Funny Cide outstandingly successes Seabiscuit as the underdog that triumphed in the sport of kings.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
fast-paced equine biography 3 July 2005
By E.M. Bristol - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Funny Cide was the 2003 winner of both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness (two legs of the prestigious horse racing Triple Crown). He was an underdog in the truest sense: unimpressive bloodlines and birthplace, with a jockey considered washed-up, and a group of owners from New York, who were neither outrageously rich or very horse savvy. In fact, they arrived at the Derby in a schoolbus: a handful of friends who had known each other since high school, who were in it for a good time and a way to bond.

Funny Cide's journey to the most well-known horse race in America is fast paced, funny and irreverent as many of the people closely associated with the colt. A must for horse lovers and racing fans - and everyone who loves to root for the underdog.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Good read, but not truly a "horse story" 30 Aug. 2004
By Rebecca L. Obuchowski - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Sally Jenkins does a good job of telling the success story of Funnycide's career leading up to the "big three", but it's not your typical horse story. If you're loking for the insight on the how's and why's leading up to Funnycide's victory from the horse world's prespective, you will be let down. This reads as a biography of the entire Funnycide team (still a story worth being told). It's a great read for non-horsepeople, but those who are into horses and the world of racing will be disappointed from the perspective it is written from.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The Remarkable Story of Improbable Events 6 Jun. 2004
By Bookreporter - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The bookstore near where you live probably has many categories --- fiction, nonfiction and children's books, if nothing else. If it's a large enough bookstore, there are perhaps books that focus on religion and spirituality, health, self-help, recovery, and sorrow.
It is one of the deficiencies of the bookstore experience that there is not a corresponding section about joy. If there were, this new book by Sally Jenkins would be there. The improbably titled FUNNY CIDE: How a Horse, a Trainer, a Jockey, and a Bunch of High School Buddies Took On the Sheiks and Bluebloods ... and Won, is steeped in joy. It is a gambler's joy, the joy you get when you figure out a point spread or get the right scratch-off lottery ticket or hit the winning exacta. But it is a pure, untrammeled joy, nonetheless. And in a culture so steeped in loneliness, anxiety and depression, anything that can promote and celebrate joy is a universal good.
The story begins where stories about horses usually commence --- in a stable. In the wee small hours of the morning, an Oklahoma-bred mare gave birth to a foal at a New York farm. He was one of 33,689 foals born that year, and as Jenkins says, there were no thunderbolts present at his birth. He was a young colt, given the name of Funny Cide, and largely left to grow up to see if he could amount to anything. No one at this stage of the game expected that this horse would be anything special.
Jenkins --- writing on behalf of the entire Funny Cide "team" --- tells their stories as well. The reader might know about the small-town friends who purchased the horse, how they pooled their money together in what seemed like a mad venture, how the circle of friends formed the "Sackatoga Stables" so they could get better seats and parking spaces at the track and feel like bigshots, and even make it to the winner's circle once in a while. What's not so well known --- and what Jenkins makes clear to even the casual race fan --- is the enormous gamble that putting money up to buy a horse is.
Putting a two-dollar bet down at the track is a known proposition; in pari-mutuel racing, you're betting against your peers and conceding a small percentage of the bet to the track and to the state to help cover expenses. Putting two hundred thousand dollars down on a horse --- and purebred Kentucky yearlings can go for higher than that --- is much more of a sucker's bet, with a higher risk of loss than even the most rapacious Las Vegas casino would allow. You're all but guaranteed, Jenkins tells us, to lose half the money you invest in any given racehorse --- that is to say that what you pay for the horse, and what the horse eats while you own him, generally won't recoup you half of what the horse earns in his lifetime. You must have an above-average horse to even think of breaking even --- and an exceptional horse, a classic horse, to think about making money off the deal.
On top of that, it helps to have top-flight people around the horse, people who know horses. (The principal partner in the Sackatoga circle is allergic to horses, we find.) Some of the best writing in FUNNY CIDE is about the horse's trainer, Barclay Tagg, and his lifelong struggle against pushy owners who think they know how to train a horse. Additionally, there's jockey Jose Santos, stuck on the backstretch at Belmont Park, waking up at five in the morning to exercise horses and riding longshots, hoping for the big score.
This makes FUNNY CIDE sound a bit like Laura Hillenbrand's magisterial SEABISCUIT, but the two works are very different. First, the Hillenbrand book was written with a certain grave, elegiac style; Jenkins's prose is much more bright and breezy, free and easy, with a certain Texas lilt here and there. Hillenbrand was rescuing a lost tale from the collective unconscious; Jenkins is retelling us information we largely already knew from ESPN coverage. Most importantly, SEABISCUIT is filled with loss, regret and nostalgia. FUNNY CIDE is about joy piling on top of joy, as everyone around the horse realizes what his true capacities and skills actually are. (A little too late, as it happens; we learn about Funny Cide's gelding in the story, which wipes out any future stud fees.)
Jenkins reminds us of the controversy surrounding Funny Cide's triumphant Run for the Roses, how a newspaper story alleging cheating was used to taint the horse's record and the jockey's reputation. That story is the only blot in the last hundred pages of FUNNY CIDE, all of which takes place amidst a torrent of joy, sparked by one horse who learned the right way to run, and to win, and never once forgot how.
--- Reviewed by Curtis Edmonds
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