• La Coronel (5-1) leads them all the way in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.Posted 2 days ago
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  • War Flag (9-1) wins the stretch battle in Belmont's Flower Bowl (G1).Posted 8 days ago
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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

Dude, Where’s My Stakes Win?

From a class standpoint, there can be no doubt that First Dude is the creme of the Sunshine Million’s Classic crop, but much like the less than stellar film of Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott, there is major confusion on how this day will unfold.
The reason for the for all the confusion is the best horse in the race has a penchant for running 2nd or 3rd, rather than visiting the winner’s circle. It was one year ago when a then little known First Dude impressively broke his maiden for trainer Dale Romans at Gulfstream Park in his third lifetime start. Since then he has won … nada.
It’s hard to imagine a horse who has run as many fine races as First Dude, is still eligible for non-winners-of-one-other-than, but that is exactly where his career stands. Narrow losses in the Preakness, Belmont, and Pennsylvania Derby, were sandwiched by a head-bobbing loss in an allowance race to Fly Down, a 3rd in the Blue Grass, and tiring in the Breeders’ Cup Classic after setting a demanding pace. Throw in a pair of 3rd play finishes in the Haskell and Travers, and you can see what type of company the Dude has kept since his initial win.
I first saw First Dude in person at last year’s Preakness, and it is no exaggeration to say the Florida bred is one of the more good looking and physically imposing horses I have seen in recent years. Yet that pesky record lingers. 12 races, 10 times in the money, but with only 1 win.
Back after a short freshening, the Dude is listed as the favorite in today’s half a million dollar Sunshine Millions Classic, and rightly so. This appears to be the spot. Despite the large purse, this could be the lightest competition he has faced in a full year. Adding to his high hopes, the newly turned older colt returns to the sight of his only win, he will be running without blinkers for the first time in four starts, and adds the services of the capable Kent Desormeaux for the first time. A perfect stalking trip behind a couple of speed types can be easily seen unfolding, but of course, I say all this with reservation. With only that one lifetime win, First Dude makes it hard to be over confident.
Some horses simply do not want to win. Will we be forced say this about First Dude, or will today, at long last, be the day that the Dude finally breaks through and wins a stakes race? My feeling is yes. Today will be the day. After all, those guys in the movie finally found their car, right?


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Older Comments about Dude, Where’s My Stakes Win?...

Bob Baffert has First Dude now.
boy its like Musket Man all over again!
they should just let him take the front, he runs better on the engine.
That was one awful ride from Kent..never gave the Dude a shot to win..He was so out of sink in the stretch i was worried about him.
When they took the blinkers off I knew they were planning on taking him back but in doing so they also took him out of the race as he reacted like he was severely checked and never came on again as they figurd he would.The best way to run any horse is keep him in the comfort zone (relaxed) and let HIM/HER run their race as best they can.Foolish experiment in a million $ race.
The Penn Derby was only 2 pounds difference, A Little Warm actually gave the winner 8 pounds. We will find out more in a matter of seconds... ...and the enigma continues
First Dude is a bit of an enigma. He's a big, strong horse that almost doesn't need the lead, but races out front. He seems to run all day, but often fades on the turn and then comes back. If you watch the Florida Derby replay, it's one of the strangest runs I've ever seen. He's right there at the top of the stretch, then he drops back, then he comes on again. He sort of did the same thing in the Preakness, but less so. It will be interesting to see what he does with blinkers off, that may do the trick... but the gut says that this is a horse that hasn't quite figured out how to win. He's plenty game, that has nothing to do with it.
I hate to say it, but I don't remember the weights in that race, lol. The PA Derby and the Preakness he showed he had heart. IMO that is why he is not a pack animal. He still has fire.
Jennifer, he has shown heart, let's see if that translates to wins this year. I don't think it is quite that weak, but yes, it is the Dude's to win, icyhotboo. By the way, Honour the Deputy has been scratched. Sharon, he has to be the richest, maiden only winner in history.
#10 scratched.FD is a very nice horse and by appearance looks really fit.Could be his year.
I'm pulling for a win for him. I am concerned about the blinkers off, but hopefully that's what he needs. I wonder how many racehorses have earned $860 K with only a maiden win?
If he doesn't win here they may as well put out to stud.There is nothing in this field.As long as he doesn't hook up with Tackleberry in a speed duel which will let the #10 close it should be a cakewalk.I like the #10 Honour The Deputy to hit the board.
I was just staring at that maiden win when I saw your post. But it's not like he's never shown any heart. Hopefully today's his day. He has lost to some great horses.
Agreed LDP, I thought that was one of his best efforts. Remember the weights?
I do believe he wants to win, otherwise he would not have come back like he did after getting squeezed in the PA Derby. I would love to see him win here and become one of the top males in the handicap division.
LOL ... good point, for good or for bad, this is Sarah Palin's all-time favorite horse. You could be right, the Met Mile and BC Dirt Mile may be in his future. First things first though ... he needs a win
I don't hold the connection to the Palin's against him...still a hard knocking favorite. I like the move taking the blinkers off. I was just talking with Ernie about how I think he could be a monster 7f/miler, but this spot does seem to fit him well. Pulling for the Dude today.

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as co-hosting the popular racing show, HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.


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