Can Funny Cide Win One for the Troops?

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As if the tale of Funny Cide, the lightly regarded gelding that won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, weren’t inspiring enough, the horse seems to be carrying a patriotic pedigree as well. Three of the original six high school buddies from Sackets Harbor, N.Y., who ponied up $5,000 in 1995 to form the syndicate that now owns Funny Cide currently have a son or son-in-law serving in the armed forces. For at least one, the fairy tale of Funny (as he’s known around the stables) has been a particularly happy diversion.

Owner John Constance, a two-term Sackets Harbor mayor and former-Marine, has a son-in-law, Major Pat Frank, with the 101st Airborne Division. Frank’s tent was one of the ones that was hit in March by grenades tossed by a fellow serviceman at Camp Pennsylvania, in Kuwait. Pat was returning from the showers when it happened. “Its been such a strain on my poor daughter [Jennifer],” says Constance. “It’s unfortunate he’s missing all this fun in our family, but the good thing is it’s keeping my daughter’s mind occupied.”

If Funny Cide wins the Belmont Stakes on Saturday and becomes the first horse in 25 years (and the first New York-bred horse ever) to win racing’s Triple Crown, Jennifer will join her parents in the winner’s circle. “I'll be absolutely thrilled,” she says, “but I'll be borderline tears, because my husband's not there with me.” Win or lose, the 1,386 residents of Sackets Harbor will throw a shindig . After all, says Constance, “Funny Cide is the most exciting thing to happen to the town since the war of 1812.”