Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Martin Garcia, First Dude is a 4-year-old homebred son of Stephen Got Even out of the Smart Strike mare Run Sarah Run. First Dude ran the mile and a sixteenth on a fast main track in 1:42.56.
First Dude, who was fifth in the run down the backside and racing in the clear, moved five wide at the head of the stretch and eventually wore down Regal Ransom in the final yards.
The victory was worth $213,379 and increased First Dude’s earnings to $1,142,139 with a record of 16-3-5-4. The colt finished second in the 2011 Preakness (GI) and third in the Belmont Stakes (GI) at two when he was trained by Dale Romans. He won an allowance race for Baffert at Santa Anita last time out.
First Dude returned $9.20, $5.40 and $4.20. Regal Ransom paid his backers $9.80 and $7.40 with Equestrio finishing a head back in third under Jose Lezcano and paying $8.80 to show.
It was another neck back to Awesome Gem, who was followed in order by Giant Oak, Caracortado, favored Mission Impazible, Wise Dan and Demarcation.
MARTIN GARCIA (Jockey, First Dude, winner) – “Look at my silks. They’re all clean. I had a perfect trip. It was real close at the finish, but I thought I had it. I had plenty of horse when I needed it. Mr. Bob (Baffert) said just let him run his own race. Let him be happy. So that’s what I did. He was a happy horse today. Now we’re all happy.”
BOB BAFFERT (Trainer, First Dude, winner) – “I think we've kind of figured out how he wants to be rated. He likes to sit back there and I think he's going to be more effective coming from off the pace. I thought he got beat but that big head of his really came through in the end. I thought it was a great race for the horse.
“Did you see the head on him? He's got a head like a dinosaur. He can eat out of a 50-gallon drum and still look you in the eye, you know? That head came through today. But he's such a nice horse, a sweet horse. He made the lead and he was sort of waiting a little bit there.
"When I got him from Dale (Romans) he looked great. He's a very sound horse. Dale did a great job with him and, unfortunately, he was having to run against Lookin At Lucky last year. But now he's a big, solid, sound horse and he likes this track. I'm glad he won here. I'm just trying to get him to the Breeders' Cup.
“After the Big 'Cap, the way he ran, I didn't think he wanted to run like that, putting him on the lead. I think he wants to run like Point Given. We figured out how Point Given wanted to run after the Derby and he wants to run that way -- let him breathe air, let him settle and he'll come running. And it worked, so we have a totally different horse now.
“I thought he got beat. I saw the slow motion and thought, ‘Well, I'll split it with them.’ I would have taken a dead heat when I first saw it. I have no idea (what’s next)"
ALAN GARCIA (Jockey, Regal Ransom, second) -- “We had a good trip. Tough loss. I thought we had it at the wire.”
GARRETT GOMEZ (Jockey, Mission Impazible, seventh as favorite) -- “He was a little excited going into the gate, but relaxed for me in the race. I thought I had him in the garden spot, but he kept wanting to drift out on me. I thought I was putting him in the best spot and he kept getting out. The track is really dead and deep, cuppy. Maybe he struggled with it some. Even when they came to him, he didn’t really offer much.”
MIKE MCCARTHY (Assistant trainer for beaten favorite Mission Impazible) – “We are disappointed with his effort but we will get him back to the barn, check him out and see what our next move will be."