03/04/2016 9:32AM

Florida leading freshman sire: First Dude

Serita Hult
First Dude, standing at owner-breeder Donald Dizney’s Double Diamond Farm in Ocala, Fla., was Florida's leading freshman sire of 2015.

First Dude had something of a star-crossed career. The twice classic-placed runner was among the most respected performers of his division, but suffered a frustrating string of narrow defeats in major events. He finally broke through with his first Grade 1 victory – but was promptly forced into retirement by an injury.

First Dude’s progeny are now taking the sting out of the situation by carrying on their sire’s obvious talent. First Dude, standing at owner-breeder Donald Dizney’s Double Diamond Farm in Ocala, Fla., was the Sunshine State’s leading freshman sire of 2015, with 16 winners from 42 starters on the season for earnings of $997,148. That total easily outpaced the runner-up, sprint champion Big Drama, who stands at Bridlewood Farm in Ocala. Big Drama had 13 winners from 35 starters and earned $797,010.

Five of the top 10 North American freshman sires of 2015 stand outside Kentucky, or stood outside Kentucky when their first crops were conceived. First Dude also was second on Florida’s juvenile sire list to Ocala Stud’s High Cotton and checked in fifth on the North American freshman list. Big Drama was seventh, and Gone Astray – at Northwest Stud in Ocala – was ninth.

First Dude, a son of Stephen Got Even, burst onto the scene by finishing third in the 2010 Blue Grass Stakes and then second in the Preakness Stakes, beaten just three-quarters of a length by dual champion Lookin At Lucky. He went on to finish third in the Belmont Stakes, beaten less than a length, and continued through the major events of summer and fall by checking in third in both the Haskell Invitational and Travers Stakes, and then finishing second, beaten a neck, in the Pennsylvania Derby.

After a few off efforts to start his 4-year-old campaign, First Dude got on a roll. He first took a Santa Anita allowance race by 2 1/2 lengths to break his frustrating losing skid, then scored his first graded stakes victory by edging Regal Ransom by a nose in the Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs. He proceeded to win the Hollywood Gold Cup by a nose over multiple Grade 1 winner and $6 million earner Game On Dude, notching his long-awaited Grade 1 triumph.  But a few weeks later, he was retired because of a tendon strain. In all, First Dude compiled a record of 17-4-5-4, bankrolling $1,442,140.

First Dude’s progeny are led by Flora Dora, who has already earned nearly $500,000. The filly won last year’s Florida Sire Series My Dear Girl Stakes, then ventured into open company to finish second in the Grade 3 Tempted Stakes and fourth in the Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes, both at Aqueduct. She has continued on that path early this year, winning the Busanda Stakes and most recently finishing fourth in the Busher Stakes. She sits 10th on the points leaderboard for the Kentucky Oaks.

First Dude also is the sire of Enterprising Lady, who finished second to Flora Dora in the My Dear Girl.