The "gutsy gelding" will race no more.

If any horse earned a well deserved pensioners life, it was Funny Cide.

He was conditioned by a trainers trainer, for everyone in racing knew how good a horseman Barclay Tagg was. The rest of the world found out in 2003 when the gutsy gelding, so dubbed by race caller Tom Durkin at the finish of a thrilling classic horserace, won the Kentucky Derby.

He won the Preakness, too, by a short pole, when rider Jose Santos, stupidly accused of carrying an electrical device in his Derby win, apparently felt that a margin victory was needed to vindicate himself and the horse.

The combination of that big Preakness effort, a wet track, a talented, fresh rival and a fast workout all conspired to tax his reserves. His Triple Crown bid fell short but that didnt stop him from becoming a local hero on a national scale.

Clearly, Funny Cide was the feel-good story of 2003 and began a renaissance of sorts for the sport because of a yellow bus filled with small town school-mates from upstate New York.

Between Funny Cide and a generally well reviewed, commercially successful feature film, Seabiscuit, racing got on a 15-minute roll.

The gutsy gelding moniker stuck. Another accolade might have been overachiever.

Funny Cide was always blessed with speed, his juvenile season a testimony to that. But it took Tagg and assistant Robin Smullen to slow him down by calming him down and stretching him out.

In Santos, he had a partner who believed and got along with him very well on the track. Funny Cide also put an entire wing of the breeding industry, the New York-bred program, on the national map.

I remember asking one of his owners, the late Gus Williams, after Funny Cides victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, just how important a victory in the upcoming Breeders Cup Classic would be.

The hell with the Breeders Cup, said Williams. I just want to win five more Gold Cups.

Alas, Funny Cide would never threaten to surpass the mighty Kelsos JCGC record and by the following year he began losing steps.

The rigors of a hard fought Triple Crown series two years earlier were beginning to take a toll. Younger and stronger rivals came along and they showed him no mercy, no respect.

The last two years were a hard struggle for him. He began to show signs of non-competitiveness even while taking class drops, from the top of the graded stakes ranks to the Grade 3s, until finally even listed and restricted races were becoming a challenge, too.

But Funny Cides popularity never wavered. Many books and T-shirts and ice cream and beers were sold with his likeness.

In his final race, the Wadsworth Memorial Handicap at Finger Lakes, as far from Times Square as you can get without a passport, he drew an announced record crowd of 12,000 for the July 4th program.

And the western New York upstate crowd cheered raucously as he circled the ring and his class was too much for the best local rivals that could be hustled to face him, many losing their composure as the classy state-bred amped up the kind of electricity never before experienced in the rural Canandaigua paddock.

The track was wet and sealed and Funny Cide struggled to find his best stride. In the end, he out-willed, as opposed to outrunning, his rivals.

The good news is that Funny Cide is not leaving the racetrack. He will remain with the Tagg outfit as a stable pony and hell make a formal farewell appearance at Saratoga Race Course, Aug. 10.

The record book will show that Funny Cide ran in 38 races, compiling an across-the-board slate of 11-6-8, with accumulated earnings of over $3.5 million.

But Funny Cide wasnt about records. He was about speed and guts and how the outside of a horse can be good for the inside of a fan. He deserved to go out a winner.