Spendthrift Farm's MGSW Major Dude (3, c, Bolt d'Oro–Mary Rita, by Distorted Humor) showed his class, overcoming a bit of trouble to gut out victory in the GII Penn Mile S. at Penn National Friday evening. The 2-5 choice looked to bobble slightly coming out of the gate before assuming a tracking spot behind the :23.17 and :47.85 fractions carved out by Recruiter (Army Mule). Tucked in third on the inside, Major Dude made an initial move on the backstretch, easing to within a neck shy of the front before abruptly shuffling back significantly as Behind Enemy Lines (GB) (Sioux Nation) made a bold move to take on and subsequently put away the frontrunner. Major Dude swung out, came on again–this time on the outside–under Irad Ortiz, Jr. to engage Behind Enemy Lines, and asserted himself late to win by three-quarters of a length, getting the turf contest for 3-year-olds in 1:33.73. Second choice Behind Enemy Lines held for second, while 98-1 Fletcher (Blofeld) finished third. Fletcher's trainer, James Lawrence, II, won the Penn Mile last year with Wow Whata Summer (Summer Front).
“We kind of squeezed and shuffled back there on the turn, and Irad got him out in the clear,” said Stu Hampson, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. “Once he found clear running, he did it all himself. He's a really cool horse to be around and obviously a really talented horse. Hopefully, he'll have a big rest of his 3-year-old year.”
The Penn Mile marked the third graded win of Major Dude's career, something not lost on Jack Sisterson, trainer of runner-up Behind Enemy Lines. “You look at the form of [Major Dude], a big favorite. You've got the best trainer [Pletcher] training the horse. Let those guys enjoy the win, and hopefully we'll match up with Major Dude again and have another battle down the stretch.”
Major Dude was by far the most accomplished in the field coming into the Penn Mile and sported the highest Beyer Speed Figures, getting consecutive 90-plus numbers in his last three starts. Last seen finishing third on Derby Day in the GII American Turf S. after a second to eventual GI Kentucky Derby runner-up Two Phil's (Hard Spun) in the GIII Jeff Ruby Steaks on Turfway Park's synthetic Mar. 25, Major Dude won the GIII Kitten's Joy S. in February at Gulfstream. Also winner of the GII Pilgrim S. at the Belmont at Aqueduct meet last October, the $550,000 2021 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga graduate was a stakes-placed winner on dirt before moving to the grass last fall.
Major Dude is one of three graded winners for sophomore sire Bolt d'Oro, who stands at Spendthrift Farm. The son of Medaglia d'Oro also has six black-type winners, including 2023 GIII Lecomte S. winner Instant Coffee and 2023 Layfayette S. winner Corona Bolt. Like Major Dude, Bolt d'Oro's May 6 Lazaro Barrera S. runner-up Navy Man is also out of a Distorted Humor mare. The current leading U.S. broodmare sire and pensioned WinStar stallion Distorted Humor is responsible for 137 winners out of his daughters.
The Penn Mile winner's dam is a full-sister to the dam of 'TDN Rising Star' Arabian Lion (Justify), impressive victor of the May 20 Sir Barton S. at Pimlico after a runner-up finish in the Apr. 15 GIII Stonestreet Lexington S. at Keeneland. The two graded stakes-producing full-sisters are out of a winning daughter of legendary Broodmare of the Year and undefeated champion Personal Ensign (Private Account). Major Dude's breeder, Clearsky Farms, picked up Major Dude's dam, Mary Rita, for $230,000 at the 2016 Keeneland November sale. The mare has a juvenile colt named Radio Liberty (Audible), who was acquired for $150,000 at Keeneland September by BSW/Crow Colts Group/Spendthrift Farm/Gandharvi, and a 2023 colt by Charlatan born on Mar. 10.
Friday, Penn National
PENN MILE S.-GII, $400,000, Penn National, 6-2, 3yo, 1mT,
1–MAJOR DUDE, 122, c, 3, by Bolt d'Oro
1st Dam: Mary Rita (SP), by Distorted Humor
2nd Dam: Possibility, by A.P. Indy
3rd Dam: Personal Ensign, by Private Account
($550,000 Ylg '21 FTSAUG). O-Spendthrift Farm LLC; B-Clearsky
Farms (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher; J-Irad Ortiz, Jr. $232,800.
Lifetime Record: 10-4-2-2, $714,895. Werk Nick Rating: A+++.
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2–Behind Enemy Lines (GB), 118, c, 3, Sioux Nation–Autumn
Snow (GB), by Invincible Spirit (Ire). 1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE.
(88,000gns Wlg '20 TATFOA; 90,000gns Ylg '21 TATOCT;
€173,228 RNA 2yo '22 GOFFDU). O-David A. Bernsen, LLC,
Rockingham Ranch and Talla Racing LLC; B-The Brigadier
Partnership (GB); T-Jack Sisterson. $77,600.
3–Fletcher, 116, c, 3, Blofeld–Missdixieactivist, by Activist.
1ST BLACK TYPE, 1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE. O/B-James C
Chandley (PA); T-James L. Lawrence, II. $42,680.
Margins: 3/4, 4HF, 1. Odds: 0.40, 3.50, 98.70.
Also Ran: Recruiter, Movisitor, Candidate, Tuskegee Airmen,
Upstate and Back.
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