The Irish Side of Funny Cide
By Irish America Staff
August / September 2003
Many know Funny Cide as the great chestnut gelding who just missed winning the Triple Crown, but few know the Irish people who were instrumental in bringing him to the forefront of racing. Having secured first place at Kentucky Derby and Preakness, Funny Cide was bred by third-generation Irish-American Joe McMahon and his wife Anne at Saratoga Thoroughbreds in New York. McMahon told Irish America, “The last few weeks have been like the American dream. My wife and I were everyday Americans, we had no illusions that we were going to breed a horse of this caliber. A possibility for a Triple Crown, a win at the Derby, that’s as big as it can get in the horse business. We didn’t set out to have a Derby winner. We wanted to have a farm to bring our kids up on.”
The first prize gelding was bought straight out of McMahon’s stables by Irishman Tony Everard, a shrewd horseman. A former jockey from Ratoath, a town near Fairyhouse racetrack in County Meath, Everard emigrated to the U.S. in 1958 taking two racehorses with him onboard a ship to America. Today he and his wife Elizabeth run New Episode Training Center in Ocala, Florida, which buys, sells, trains and ships horses. Everard explained the passion behind his business, “When you’re from Ireland, horses are a way of life. The Irish are born with horses.”
Everard and his brother Joseph saw Funny Cide’s great track potential and they were the horse’s first owners. It was Joseph’s wife Helen who named him Funny Cide. Seven months after buying him from Saratoga, the Everard brothers sold Funny Cide to the group who own him now.
Unfortunately, the Triple Crown was not to be, and people from the Funny Cide camp believe that the weather had a lot to do with it. Funny Cide’s trainer Barclay Tagg said that the unpredictability of the mud on the rainy Belmont day was likely the reason their horse placed third instead of first. Perhaps Funny Cide needs to start training in Ireland? After all, it’s not short on rain.
According to Everard, Funny Cide is only at the start of a brilliant career. He said, “Funny Cide’s legs are good and he could race until he’s nine or ten years old. He’s only three now. He’ll be running again.” ♦