First Captain Takes Next Step in Dwyer


First Captain | Coglianese Photo

Two-for-two 'TDN Rising Star' First Captain (Curlin) takes the next logical step in Monday's GIII Dwyer S. at Belmont Park. The $1.5-million Fasig-Tipton Saratoga co-topper defeated subsequent winner and 'Rising Star' recipient Mahaamel (Into Mischief) in their respective debuts going a furlong shorter here Apr. 24, then doubled up in a track-and-trip allowance in the slop May 29, good for a 95 Beyer Speed Figure.

First Captain is owned by a powerful conglomerate led by West Point Thoroughbreds and conditioned by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey.

“We're super excited and it's a wonderful and really powerful partnership assembled,” West Point's Terry Finley said. “We've got Siena Farm, who we owned part of the [2017 GI] Kentucky Derby winner [Always Dreaming] with, Woodford who are a part of the Lanes' End partnership and, of course, [First Captain's breeder] Bobby Flay. He breeds really good horses and is just one of the many class horses he bred. I remember when his mother ran and Bobby owned her, too. Everyone is excited. This is what you go to these yearling sales for.”

The First Captain team is hopeful their charge can stake his claim on a wide-open 3-year-old division during this second half of the season.

“We know that there are moving parts in every division,” Finley said. “You have horses that come back from the Triple Crown in races like the Haskell and Jim Dandy. We'd like to think that he would be able to throw his hat in the ring. The beautiful part of our industry is that it doesn't matter what we think or what we say, what matters is what the horse does on the track. Opinions don't matter, it's all about getting to the wire first.”

Juddmonte homebred Snow House (Twirling Candy) appears to be First Captain's main challenger. After finishing fourth on debut over the Fair Grounds turf in March, he has reeled off back-to-back wins of his own for Brad Cox, at Keeneland Apr. 21 and in a Churchill optional claimer May 29. Godolphin's Gershwin (Distorted Humor–Music Note) scratched out of Delaware's GIII Kent S. Saturday for this. He was last seen taking the rained-off GIII Penn Mile in the slop May 28.

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