7 News Special Report: 'The Horse Was A Hero' Part 2

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Ten years ago, after winning the Kentucky Derby and then the Preakness, Funny Cide, "The Gutsy Gelding,"  was set to conquer the Triple Crown. 

The sport of kings belonged, at least for the moment, to his co-owners, six high school pals from Sackets Harbor who travel in a bus.

"Lee Greenwood, at the Preakness, came up to us and said, 'Can my wife and I have a picture with you guys?' Lee Greenwood wants a picture with us," said Funny Cide co-owner JP Constance.

Funny Cide fever gripped the nation. 

There was Funny Cide lager and Funny Cide hats. 

Tickets to the final jewel of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, are scalped on eBay. 

The media spotlight on the Sackets Harbor six becomes intense.   

"It was non-stop interviews. They were coming from California. We were doing phone interviews from England," said co-owner Harold Cring.

Nowhere was Funny Cide fever stronger than in Sackets Harbor.

On June 17, 2003, thousands of fanes crowded into the village to watch live coverage of Funny Cide making his bid for Triple Crown history.

While race day brought pleasant weather to Sackets Harbor, a drenching rain soaked the track 250 miles away at Belmont Park. 

That was bad news since Funny Cide does not like mud.

"Any other race that was scheduled to run on a day like that would have been cancelled," said Cring.

Funny Cide finished third. 

Mother Nature, and possibly fatigue from his break-neck pace at the Preakness three weeks earlier, denied him the elusive Triple Crown.

"We might have won that race if it hadn't been knee deep mud," said Constance.

But remember, up to a few weeks earlier, the Sackets Six hadn't dared dream of winning any Triple Crown race.

"Instead, we won two and came in third in one. You can't really beat that by any stretch of the imagination," said Cring.

"He has enriched our lives. We can't thank Funny Cide enough for the experience. We live it all the time," said Constance.

Funny Cide now enjoys a life of leisure at Kentucky Horse Park, a retirement home for some of the world's greatest horses.

But you can't help wonder if the pounding hoof beats and the roar of the crowds from ten years ago still echo in some corner of "The Gutsy Gelding's" mind?   

You can see Part 2 of John Moore's special report "The Horse Was A Hero" on 7 News at 6 and 11 p.m. on Wednesday.

See Part 1

Tuesday, October 21, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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