Baffert's 'Dudes' Abide in 1-2 Gold Cup Show
Two dudes from trainer Bob Baffert's barn proved better than heavy favorite Twirling Candy in the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) (VIDEO). First Dude came from off the pace to capture the $500,000 event July 9 under frantic urging from Martin Garcia to snatch victory by a nose at the wire over Game On Dude.
Baffert said he did not know which of his horses won until the photo sign came down.
"It's like that line, 'I don't know who won, but I know I did,'" he said, paraphrasing Charlie Whittingam.
"I was having a bad day. I wanted to run 1-2. I was hoping for a dead heat,'' he added. The last time a trainer had the first two finishers in the Gold Cup was in 2001 when the late Bobby Frankel had Aptitude and Skimming at 1-2. That result was made possible when Futural was disqualified from first and placed third.
First Dude, with the biggest victory of his career, gains an automatic berth to the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs. Donald Dizney's Florida homebred son of Stephen Got Even out of the Smart Strike mare Run Sarah Run has already shown a fondness for Churchill. He captured the Alysheba Stakes (gr. I) by a nose over that track in his most recent race May 6.
"I just played cat and mouse with Twirling Candy as much as I could," Sutherland told TVG. "I thought I finally put him away. Then flying late I saw this flash of red. I said, 'Martin! You've got to be kidding me!' "
Sutherland said she wasn't completely surprised, however.
"That's the way they've been working in the mornings," she said. "First Dude always catching him at the wire."
Setsuko finished fourth, 2 1/4 lengths behind Twirling Candy, with defending Gold Cup winner Awesome Gem fifth.
This was Baffert's third Gold Cup win following Real Quiet in 1999 and Congaree in 2003. It came a day after a funeral mass for his mother in his hometown of Nogales, Ariz. Ellie Baffert died June 23 after a long fight against cancer. She was 88.
Second last year in the Preakness (gr. I) and Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) and third in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), Haskell Invitational (gr. I), and Travers Stakes (gr. I), First Dude has put it all together with his third win in four starts for Baffert. His career mark stands at 4-5-4 in 17 races with earnings of $1,442,140.
For winning the Gold Cup, First Dude's $150,000 Breeders' Cup Classic entry fee will be paid and $10,000 in shipping fees will be taken care of as part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge program.
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