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Baffert's Dudes First to Wire in Gold Cup (Video)

First Dude wins 2011 Hollywood Gold Cup.
After the mile and a quarter classic journey of the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup (Grade I), Bob Baffert knew one of his two ‘Dudes was the winner. The photo revealed that 4-to-1 second choice First Dude had rallied from off the pace to the outside under Martin Garcia to nip front-running barn mate and 9-to-2 third choice Game On Dude and Chantal Sutherland by a nose.

“When they hit the wire, I knew I had won it, I just didn’t know which one. I was hoping for a dead heat,” said Baffert, who captured his third Gold Cup victory just a day after burying his 88-year-old mother Ellie after a long battle with cancer. “She loved watching the races and it kept her going and made her live longer. She would feel worse for me after a loss; here she is hooked up with all kinds of stuff. She was a mother until the very end.”


A four-year-old son of Stephen Got Even, this was First Dude’s fourth start for Baffert since transferring from East Coast trainer Dale Romans. He primarily ran on or close to the lead while earning just one win through his first 14 career starts, but has now won three straight from off the pace since fading after being involved early in the Santa Anita Handicap (Grade I) in his first start for the silver-haired wizard.


“First Dude is a big ‘ol horse that you just gotta let him settle and ride him with a lot of confidence, which is what Martin did,” said Baffert, whose colt surpassed $1.4 million in career earnings while securing an automatic bid to the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic along with the $150,000 entry fee to the biggest race in North America. “The first time we ran him in the Santa Anita Handicap, we sent him out there and he was done at the 3/8 pole. He does not want to be ridden that way, so we worked him one morning and he broke off behind a worker and finished up well with Martin and we realized that’s what he wants to do.”


Off second and third place finishes in Grade III's outside of Southern California on the heels of a controversial Big ‘Cap victory that made Sutherland the first female jockey to capture Santa Anita’s most prestigious race, Game On Dude was reunited with Sutherland for the first time since, making her the first female jockey to have a mount in the Gold Cup.


“I gotta give a lot to Chantal. She really rode a great race and picked that horse up and carried him. He got a second wind there and was on the lead the way he wants to run. Last time we grabbed him and took him back; he didn’t like that,” said a redeemed Baffert after watching all three horses he sent to Calder for the Summit of Speed go down to defeat as well as his three-year-old colt Coil finishing second in the $150,000 Swaps Stakes (Grade II) earlier in the day at Hollywood Park.


Even-money favorite Twirling Candy finished a neck back in third, bracketed by both ‘Dudes at the finish line after sitting the perfect trip just behind Game On Dude throughout.


After the race, trainer John Sadler was critical of the fact that Twirling Candy was forced to carry 122 pounds, six more than First Dude and four more than Game On Dude. Sadler’s four-year-old son of Candy Ride has now failed in all three attempts in Grade I races going two turns, but pushed his earnings over $700,000 with seven wins to his credit from ten career starts.


Setsuko rounded out the superfecta as the 6-to-1 fourth choice and has now won just once in 14 career starts, while defending Gold Cup champion Awesome Gem settled for fifth at 12-to-1.


Baffert said that his ‘Dudes would ship to Del Mar to test their affinity for the Polytrack ahead of the $1 million Pacific Classic on August 28.


Make sure to follow me on Twitter @mdoche for much more and visit www.pick4blog.com for daily selections and analysis!

 

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What the Nation is saying about Baffert's Dudes First to Wire in Gold Cup (Video)...

Thanks guys. It was a great atmoshpher at the old track of the lakes and flowers and a great race. Off the pace is the place to be for First Dude and Game On Dude ran his eyeballs out. Don't discount Twirling Candy just yet either. He did get the perfect trip, but he can still improve from here.
You captured a terrfic post-race interview with Bob Baffert. Really well done, Marc!
What an excellent race! Happy to see First Dude get another win, seems last year's losses are far behind him now. He has turned into a very profitable horse for me. Thanks for the excellent coverage, Marc!

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Meet Marc Doche

 

As a life long horse racing fan and handicapper, it’s an honor to be joining
Horseracingnation.com to share my knowledge and expertise on a daily basis to horse racing fans.
 
Since the early 1980’s when I visited Santa Anita with my grandfather as a young boy, the track has been in my blood. As soon as I turned 16, I was driving out to the track as much as possible, and with the advent of the self-service machines, was able to wager hassle free.
 
After graduating from UCLA in 2000, I began my career in sports media as a site manager for Athletesdirect.com and a couple of years later became the Media Relations Coordinator for the Los Angeles Avengers of the Arena Football League.
 
In the past few years, I have moved my focus to covering the Sport of Kings and have worked in the early hours to better understand morning workouts and putting the pieces of the handicapping puzzle together.
 
I have also used my journalistic talents to produce video coverage of stakes races in Southern California, as well as interviews with jockeys, trainers, owners and more. I look forward to providing their in-depth insight to you.