03/01/2011 3:54PM

Big 'Cap work hype


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.