10/01/2016 5:32PM

Small filly Dude Fantasy delivers big performance in My Dear Girl

Lauren King/Coglianese Photography
Dude Fantasy, under Tyler Gaffalione, wins the My Dear Girl.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Florida – Dude Fantasy, a Donald Dizney homebred, was entered three times earlier this year in 2-year-old auctions. She was withdrawn twice and didn’t meet a $25,000 reserve in the third sale – perhaps owing to her diminutive stature -- and Dizney wound up keeping the filly. And that has worked out very, very well.

Dude Fantasy won her career debut Sept. 2 and on Saturday landed a much richer prize when she bulled between horses in the final furlong and won the $500,000 My Dear Girl division of the Florida Sire Stakes.

Surprise Wedding finished a closing second in the 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-old fillies and Fleet Dude, another Dizney homebred, was third. The favored Cajun Delta Dawn, seeking to remain unbeaten and sweep the three stallion stakes for 2-year-old fillies, broke sharply from post 13 and niftily crossed the field to gain a solid pressing position, but she had no final account and finished fourth.

Dude Fantasy might not have a lot of scope, but she’s by First Dude (oddly, a very tall horse) and out of Dixieland Fantasy, a Dixieland Band mare, and thus is better bred to go two turns than many of her rivals Saturday. Dude Fantasy showed positional sprint speed winning first time out, but what impressed trainer Ralph Nicks was her professionalism.

“Ever since she came in she was like an old horse,” Nicks said. “She’s never made any mistakes, and that wins a lot of baby races.”

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Dude Fantasy raced inside in the second flight of runners around the first turn, but Tyler Gaffalione edged over to the No. 2 path to follow Cajun Delta Dawn. Dude Fantasy traveled well down the backstretch and was in the bridle, waiting for her cue.

“Around the far turn I knew I had a lot of horse, and I just waited and waited,” Gaffalione said.

Dude Fantasy raced right in behind Cajun Delta Dawn into the short homestretch, held in by none other than her stablemate, Fleet Dude. Finally a seam opened and Dude Fantasy gamely went through, bursting to the lead and giving Gaffalione his fourth win on the day.

“She was always a real professional horse,” said Gaffalione. “She did the same thing in her first race.”

Dude Fantasy won by three-quarters of a length, with Surprise Wedding, like Cajun Delta Dawn trained by David Fawkes, closing decently on the outside for second, a half-length in front of Fleet Dude. Dude Fantasy ran 1 1/16 miles on a “good” track in 1:46.39 and paid $9.60 to win. Nicks said there are no set plans for Dude Fantasy, a filly unraced barely more than one month ago, has come a long way in a short time.