09/11/2003 11:00PM

This 'Dude' looks like a winner for sire

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DEL MAR, Calif. - The upset win by Dave the Dude in the $100,000 I'm Smokin Stakes at Del Mar last Monday pushed the young California stallion Swiss Yodeler past the $1 million mark in 2003 progeny earnings.

For Swiss Yodeler, a Grade 1 winner and multiple stakes winner in 1996, the seven-figure mark is the latest milestone in a developing stud career.

Last year, Swiss Yodeler led California's freshman stallions with earnings of $748,718, placing him seventh on the national list.

In 2003, Swiss Yodeler, 9, leads the state's second-crop sires with earnings of $1,047,722, well clear of second-place Benchmark, whose progeny have earned $767,924. Benchmark is the sire of Don'tsellmeshort, the favorite for the I'm Smokin Stakes, whom Dave the Dude caught in the final stride on Monday.

Neither sire is prominent on the national second-crop sire list. Swiss Yodeler ranks 18th and Benchmark 25th. Distorted Humor, the sire of Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide, leads the list.

Still, Swiss Yodeler has carved out a niche among California stallions. He stood for a $4,000 fee in 2002, before his runners reached the racetrack. The fee was raised to $7,500 for 2003.

Dave the Dude is Swiss Yodeler's fourth stakes winner and first this year.

Owned by Mike Harrington and Joy and Keith Vanderhouwen, Dave the Dude was a 7-1 shot versus four opponents in the six-furlong I'm Smokin Stakes. Dave the Dude, trained by Harrington and ridden by Alex Solis, rallied from last in the final quarter-mile to nip Don'tsellmeshort by a nose.

"He changed leads inside the sixteenth pole and found another gear," Solis said. "It's fun to ride horses that come from out of it."

More importantly, the style of the victory suggests that Dave the Dude wants more ground than six furlongs. Many of Swiss Yodeler's winners in the 16 months since his first crop debuted have been best from 4 1/2 to six furlongs.

"When you run 4 1/2 furlongs, you have to use their speed," Harrington said. "Going longer you don't have to use their speed. To my way of thinking, I don't look at them as speed horses. I think they have tactical speed. They don't have to be in front.

"You'll see more of them that can run six or seven or a mile."

Dave the Dude has won 2 of 5 starts and $112,800. The winner of a five-furlong maiden race in his debut at Hollywood Park on June 4, Dave the Dude followed with a third in the Haggin Stakes and a fourth in the Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile Championship.

He was eligible to be claimed for $80,000 in an optional claiming race at 5 1/2 furlongs on Aug. 18. Last early in a field of six, he rallied to finish third.

"This horse is a closer. He's always been a closer," Harrington said.

Dave the Dude is out of Sharper Bye One, a 12-year-old mare who has produced four winners, including Sharper Too, the winner of the 2001 I'm Smokin Stakes. The dam has a yearling filly by Swiss Yodeler named Swiss Please.

Harrington said that Dave the Dude will be pointed for the $75,000 Cavonnier Stakes for statebreds at seven furlongs at Santa Anita Oct. 1.

Sharper Too won a similar race at Santa Anita in the fall of 2001, the final running of the California Sires Stakes, which was run at seven furlongs.

The $125,000 California Cup Juvenile at 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita in Nov. 8 is a long-term possibility for Dave the Dude, although Harrington thinks the distance of the Cavonnier may be more suitable to Dave the Dude.

"He'll do fine at seven," Harrington said. "The only thing that concerns me is his dam was a closing sprinter."