By Avalyn Hunter
“Better late than never” is an adage that Donald Dizney's homebred First Dude has now proven twice over. Not only did he snatch victory July 9 in literally the last jump of the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) (VIDEO), but he finally captured his first grade I race after a frustrating 3-year-old season that saw him place five times at the top level. With his third straight win, the colt appears poised to take his place as a contender in an older male division that lacks a clear standout.
First Dude is by the A.P. Indy horse Stephen Got Even , who stands at Lane’s End. Winner of the 1999 Galleryfurniture.com Stakes (gr. II) and the 2000 Donn Handicap (gr. I), Stephen Got Even comes from a female family that has been more notable for producing good runners and broodmares than sires. A full brother to the stakes-winning fillies Indy Glory and Grand Merger, he was produced from Immerse, a grade I-placed daughter of Cox's Ridge and 1986 Las Flores Handicap (gr. III) winner Baroness Direct. The last-named mare was by Blushing Groom out of Avum, by Umbrella Fella, and so a half sister to 1986 Seminole Handicap (gr. II) winner Minneapple (by Riverman) and French stakes winner Lyphard's Princess (by Lyphard). The best stallion produced by this family in modern times is 1980 champion juvenile Lord Avie, aLord Gaylord half brother to Avum who sired 503 winners (59%) and 84 stakes winners (9.8%) from 854 foals.
While more consistent than Lord Avie as a sire of winners, Stephen Got Even has not been quite as consistent in producing stakes winners. Even so, he has had his moments. Stephen Got Even has so far sired 315 winners (65%) and 25 stakes winners (5.1%) from 487 named foals aged 3 and older. The best include 2005 champion juvenile Stevie Wonderboy , multiple Panamanian champion Excellent Shine, and 2009 Wood Memorial (gr. I) winner I Want Revenge.
Like Stevie Wonderboy, First Dude's pedigree involves crossing back to the female family of A.P. Indy, though not so closely. (Stevie Wonderboy is inbred 3x3 to 1992 Broodmare of the Year Weekend Surprise, dam of A.P. Indy and of Stevie Wonderboy's broodmare sire,Summer Squall.) In First Dude's case, the common ancestress is 1941 Irish Oaks winner Uvira II, the fifth dam of both A.P. Indy and First Dude. But while A.P. Indy descends from the prolific and powerful branch established by Uvira II's daughter Missy Baba (by My Babu), First Dude descends from a much less-heralded daughter, Purdah.
A daughter of five-time American leading sire Nasrullah (who also earned one sire title in England), Purdah showed absolutely none of the talent of either parent on the track, managing a single placing in seven starts. Her pedigree and her status as a half sister to five stakes winners were enough to grant her access to good or at least promising sires early in her career, but by the end of her broodmare career she appeared to have squandered those opportunities as well. She did produce 10 winners from 13 named foals, but her best runners could do no more than earn stakes placings in relatively moderate events.
Scatter Plan, Purdah's 1968 filly by 1964 Belmont Stakes winner Quadrangle, was no better than most of her half siblings as a racer, winning just one of 17 starts. But her broodmare career provided some redemption for herself and her dam, as she produced three stakes winners in grade I-placed Preemptive(by Tri Jet), Preprint (by Drone), and grade III-placed Breech (byRelaunch). The last-named filly, in turn, produced stakes-placed Run Sarah Run, the dam of First Dude, to the cover of Smart Strike .
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As he has recently been touched on as the broodmare sire of Queen's Plate (VIDEO) winner Inglorious (Inglorious Basks in Classic Glow), Smart Strike’s role as a top broodmare sire needs no extensive review, but there is no question that the Lane's End stallion has had a hot couple of weeks. Besides the victories of Inglorious and First Dude, which between them have boosted Smart Strike to 28th on the broodmare sire list, Smart Strike has been represented as a sire by Dwyer Stakes (gr. II) winner Dominus and Dance Smartly Stakes (gr. IIT) winner Never Retreat and is currently a close second behind Tapit on the general sire list.
Returning briefly to Scatter Plan, her family has produced a smattering of other stakes winners, including multiple grade III winner Bettarun Fast, and is by far the best branch descending from Purdah. It is also a branch that has shown a significant affinity for In Reality-line stallions, which may suggest a possible angle in planning future matings involving First Dude. (From nine named foals of racing age sired by In Reality-line sires, Scatter Plan's family has produced eight winners and three stakes winners, including Bettarun Fast.). For now, though, First Dude's future is on the racetrack, where he presently looms as a possible entrant for the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I). If he can win that, he may well become the “first dude” of American racing.