04/07/2011 2:55PM

Santa Anita: First Dude drops in search of a win

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ARCADIA, Calif. – First Dude, sixth in the Santa Anita Handicap on March 5 in his first start for trainer Bob Baffert, will be heavily favored to win the second race of his career in Saturday’s eighth race at Santa Anita, a $56,000 allowance race over 1 1/16 miles.

“I thought we could get him in a spot where we could win a race,” Baffert said. “I’m still trying to figure out his style.”

Owned by Don Dizney, First Dude was second or third in six graded stakes for 3-year-olds last year for trainer Dale Romans, including a runner-up finish by three-quarters of a length to Lookin At Lucky in the Preakness Stakes and a third, by a length, to Drosselmeyer in the Belmont Stakes.

In the Santa Anita Handicap, First Dude set the pace for the first half-mile and faded to finish 6 1/2 lengths behind the Baffert-trained Game On Dude.

First Dude, who has one win in 14 starts, is unlikely to set the pace in Saturday’s allowance race, a role likely to go to the former claimer Coo Cachoo or Royal F J, who was second in an optional claimer March 13.

Baffert has two runners in the Santa Anita Derby – Jaycito and Midnight Interlude – and will be favored to win the second race for 3-year-old maidens with Flightofalifetime. On March 19, Flightofalifetime finished second, by 7 1/4 lengths to Maclean’s Music, who earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 114.

Flightofalifetime earned a 95 figure for his runner-up finish. The maiden race has six runners, including Patriot’s Voyage, a first-time starter trained by Baffert who is owned by Kaleem Shah and was purchased for $625,000 at the 2009 Keeneland September yearling sale.

No Derby dreams for Comma to the Top

Trainer Peter Miller repeatedly in recent weeks has ruled out the likelihood of Comma to the Top advancing to Kentucky Derby, regardless of how he fares in the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday. In an era when getting to the Derby seems paramount to those with a decent 3-year-old, Miller has, as he put it Thursday morning, “a different mindset.”

“My goal wouldn’t be to get to the Derby. My goal would be to win it,” Miller said. “Getting there is no badge of honor. Seventy-five percent of them don’t want to run a mile and a quarter.”

Miller said the distance of the Kentucky Derby is a factor in his thinking with Comma to the Top, who is by the sire Bwana Charlie, who had his best success sprinting.

“I also think he’s had a hard, long campaign, and I’d like to give him a rest,” Miller said.

Game On Dude eyes Charles Town Classic

Led by Game On Dude, five Southern California-based older horses are being considered for the $1 million Charles Town Classic in West Virginia on April 16.

Setsuko and Quindici Man, second and third in the Santa Anita Handicap; Acclamation, fifth in the Kilroe Mile on March 5 and a Grade 1 winner last year; and Awesome Gem, the 2010 Hollywood Gold Cup winner who was third in an allowance race at Golden Gate Fields on April 2; are the other probable shippers.

– additional reporting by Jay Privman