Major Dude Powers to $175,000 Kitten’s Joy (G3) Victory
Third Win in Nine Races for Hall of Fame Trainer Pletcher
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – In the reverse of his prior start, where he was unable to find running room until too late, Spendthrift Farm’s Major Dude got an ideal trip under jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. and powered through the stretch to overtake pacesetting stablemate Dude N Colorado and capture Saturday’s $175,000 Kitten’s Joy (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
The 1 1/16-mile Kitten’s Joy was the second of five graded-stakes for 3-year-olds and the first of two on the grass preceding the $250,000 Holy Bull (G3), the next step on Gulfstream’s road to the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) April 1.
Trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, Major Dude settled in fourth while Dude N Colorado, exiting a front-running maiden triumph Dec. 24 on the Tapeta at Gulfstream, raced through a quarter-mile in 23.09 seconds and a half in 47.24, pressed by Boppy O. Six furlongs went in 1:10.88 with the leaders unchanged, but Ortiz able to tip Major Dude outside and in position for a clear run down the lane, getting up inside the eighth pole and drawing clear.
Candidate, unbeaten in three previous turf starts including the Jan. 7 Dania Beach at Gulfstream over Major Dude, got up to be second ahead of Dude N Colorado. They were followed by Boppy O, Souzak, Congruent, Lights of Broadway and Moon Cat.
Major Dude, by Bolt d’Oro, made his first three starts on dirt last summer, running third in the Sapling at Monmouth Park. He won the Pilgrim (G2) at Aqueduct in his turf debut and has remained on grass since, finishing ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) and second in the Dania Beach.
It was the third win of the day for Pletcher, following 3-year-olds King’s Fortune ($14.40) in Race 5 and Tapit Trice ($4.60) in Race 8.
$175,000 Kitten’s Joy (G3) Quotes
Trainer Todd Pletcher (Major Dude, 1st; Dude N Colorado, 3rd): “Dude N Colorado, he won wire-to-wire last time so we were going to kind of let him run away from there and see how the race unfolded. He was able to make a pretty comfortable lead. Major Dude, we just wanted to focus on getting him out in the clear a little sooner. The last time he just got bottled up a little too long behind a slow pace. He closed well that day, he just ran out of time. [Jockey] Irad [Ortiz Jr.] was able to maneuver him out into the clear and give him plenty of time to put his run together and he finished very well. He’s a super nice colt, very consistent. I’ll talk to the guys at Spendthrift. We’re kicking around the idea of putting him on the dirt at some point. We’ll see when that opportunity comes up.”
Winning Irad Ortiz Jr. (Major Dude): “I had a perfect trip. I broke good. I took a little hold following some nice horses, saving ground the whole way. He did the rest.”