June 18, 2024

Major Dude brings best credentials to Penn Mile

Major Dude rolls late in the Kitten's Joy (Photo by Coglianese Photography)

Dual graded stakes winner Major Dude will be favored to win a third Friday night at Penn National in the $400,000 Penn Mile (G2). For three-year-olds, the Penn Mile highlights a stakes-laden program that also includes Penn Oaks for three-year-old fillies and several stakes restricted to Pennsylvania-breds.

The Todd Pletcher-trained Major Dude enters the Penn Mile with the highest qualifications among the field eight. Past wins include the Pilgrim (G2) last October and the Kitten’s Joy (G3) in February, with his most recent outings being a second to eventual Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up Two Phil’s in the Jeff Ruby (G3) and a half-length third in the American Turf (G2) on Derby Day at Churchill Downs.

Candidate, who upset Major Dude in the Jan. 7 Dania Beach S. at Gulfstream before running second in their rematch in the Kitten’s Joy, has been gelded since finishing a troubled sixth in the April 7 Transylvania (G3) at Keeneland. He figures to show early foot along with the once-beaten Recruiter, a son of Army Mule making his grass debut.

Behind Enemy Lines was a stakes winner on the Florida Derby Day undercard at Gulfstream prior to a sixth-place effort in the American Turf, while Grade 2-placed stakes winner Tuskegee Airmen figures to come on from his season debut fourth in the six-furlong Gold Fever S. at Belmont for trainer John Servis.

Betting in the $150,000 Penn Oaks, a one-mile grass test for three-year-old fillies, is likely to center around Royalty Interest, who won on debut for Chad Brown at Tampa Bay Downs in March, and Princess Bettina, a new addition to the Pletcher stable after a March 18 win in the China Doll S. at Santa Anita for Peter Eurton.