03/01/2011 3:54PM

Big 'Cap work hype

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Yes, the Big ’Cap favorite remains Twirling Candy.

But something happened Tuesday morning at Santa Anita that suggests he might have his hands full.

Trainer Bob Baffert had a plane to catch, so he worked three Big ’Cap starters early, after the 6:30 a.m. break.

First was Tweebster, five furlongs in 1:00.40. Ho, meet hum.

Then came Game On Dude. He worked in company, five furlongs in 1:00.40. It was a good work, nothing more.

Baffert saved the best for last – First Dude.

“Leave the five-eighths, just cruise,” he told jockey Martin Garcia.

First Dude glided the first furlong. Baffert glanced at his stopwatch as the colt passed the half-mile pole. “12-and-one and it looks like he is galloping,” Baffert said.

First Dude was working by himself, and reaching out through the lane with enormous strides.

“He jumps a long way, that one,” assistant trainer Jim Barnes said.

First Dude powered through the stretch, and Baffert looked at his watch as First Dude crossed the finish wire. “58-and-four … geez.”

“Damn,” he added. He meant it in a good way, as in “wow.”

Garcia said afterward that First Dude “has a really big stride, what he does, he does easily.”

First Dude, a one-time winner eligible to the first allowance condition, might not be good enough to defeat 6-for-7 Twirling Candy.

But it is now clear – the 2011 Big ’Cap on Saturday is more than a one-horse race.

H J Bond More than 1 year ago
Baffert has only had the Dude a few weeks, but don't be surprised if he has him primed for the race of his life in the Big 'Cap. Go to the windows. As for Twirling Candy, who has beaten?
F. A. Esse More than 1 year ago
I wouldn't call First Dude cheap speed. If he wins, it will be the Bob Baffert-Martin Garcia duo.
Larry More than 1 year ago
First Dude is anything but "cheap speed." Granted he was a hanger for Dale Romans, now we see what Bob Baffert can do with him. I'm still leaning toward Twirling Candy, but First Dude makes it an exciting race.
ToddTisUseless More than 1 year ago
Will not bet against Baffert turning this one around.
Mike Hester More than 1 year ago
If Twirling Candy can rate off of First Dude, he wins. If not, hello good price.
GunBow More than 1 year ago
First Dude has been my key to the Big 'Cap for a while. This horse has always had talent, and now he's in the barn of one of the greatest trainers of speed in the sport's history, at a track that favors speed (although less so at two turns). I can't believe that First Dude won't be on the lead for the Big 'Cap, and I expect the pace to be solid. Twirling Candy will have a target to run at, and the quicker ealy pace will actaully allow him to get early separation on less brilliant horses like Tweebster, Soul Candy and Setsuko. If Twirling Candy is as good as he has hinted at, and he can get 10 furlongs, then he should be able to attack First Dude on the far turn, open up and win in fast time. And with First Dude in the field, Twirling Candy is going to have to run every one of those 10 furlongs. We know First Dude is fast and that he can carry his speed up to 12 furlongs. He is not Indian Firewater and the Big 'ap isn't at nine furlongs. Unlike Indian Firewater, First Dude is unlikely to fall apart on the far turn, and thus Twirling Candy is not going to be able to simply inherit the lead. He's going to have to get by First Dude, and it may not be easy. And even if he does get by First Dude, that battle could leave him vulnerable in the stretch (with Game on Dude and Soul Candy true distance horses). If Twirling Candy is able to stalk First Dude, get by him and then open up impressively, the early fractions should be fast enough to produce a strong final time. However, I'm not 100 percent sure Twirling Candy will be at his best at 10 furlongs. As it should be, Twirling Candy will have to earn it in the Big 'Cap.
Zenyatta John More than 1 year ago
Mandella (Dare and Go) beat Cigar years ago with an entry. And a (questionable) ride by Jerry Bailey didn't help Cigar either, so anything can happen. Twirling Candy is a stone cold freak, I'll make a cold exacta with First Dude.
James Mc More than 1 year ago
First Dude may have an impact on the race, but he's still 1 for 13 lifetime. That is significant. I think he's fairly likely to run in the money, even run second, but I can't use him at 3-1 or so. He's simply not fast enough to get away from the field here either. His fastest six-furlong time is about 1:11, and he doesn't pass horses. Game on Dude seems to be improving, he seems to have the capacity to pass horses, unlike the other 'Dude, but it seems a big question whether he can kick it in the final furlong. Also, Desormeaux rode First Dude ridiculously conservatively last time. I actually foresee a good possibility that a horse like Gladding could go out on the lead and prove to be very stubborn there, eventually (probably) being passed by Twirling Candy. I also am considering the possibility that Pode Ir clunks up for a fat exacta about five seconds after TC gallops out to win.
rf More than 1 year ago
If they could ever get First Dude to relax and close like I know he can, the big horse would be very formidable.Trying to wire fields will never be successful.
Johnny Bwell More than 1 year ago
Excuse me sir, but I read between the lines ... First Dude cannot get a mile and one quarter IMO.