Major Dude looks for more in G2 Penn Mile

Two horses that are part of Nick’s Turf 10 list of top grass three-year-olds headline Friday’s Grade 2, $400,000 Penn Mile at Penn National.

The Mile is the highlight of a card that includes five other stakes, including the $150,000 Penn Oaks for sophomore fillies. Post time for the card is 5:00 with the Mile, the sixth of 11 races, set for 7:45.

Major Dude, fifth in the Turf 10, is the headliner in the Penn Mile and the 8-5 morning line favorite. The Todd Pletcher trainee is a two-time graded stakes winner already in his young career and last out was a near-miss third, beaten just a half-length, in a renewal of the Grade 2 American Turf at Churchill Downs that featured just about the entire Turf 10.

Regular pilot Irad Ortiz, Jr. is scheduled to make the trip west to Grantville to ride.

Behind Enemy Lines, seventh in the Turf 10, is 5-1 on the morning line. The winner of Gulfstream Park’s Cutler Bay Stakes two back, he finished sixth after hopping at the start of the American Turf and will look for a bounceback effort here.

Flavien Prat will ride for trainer Jack Sisterson.


The second choice on the morning line, at 5-2, is the Arnaud Delacour-trained Candidate, who will have Trevor McCarthy in the irons. He won the Dania Beach at Gulfstream in January to cap a three-race win streak. Last out in the Grade 3 Transylvania, he made a bit of a middle move before tiring late to finish sixth.

Tuskegee Airmen
Tuskegee Airmen won the Rocky Run Stakes at Delaware Park. Photo by

Trainer Chuck Lawrence scored an enormous upset in last year’s Penn Mile when Wow Whata Summer won by 1 ¼ lengths on a boggy turf course at odds of 83-1. Lawrence will try to reprise that with another longshot, Fletcher, who’s 20-1 on the morning line. It will be the Blofeld colt’s first turf try; he owns a win from six lifetime outings on the main track and will have Jeiron Barbosa in the irons.

Two other hopeful refugees from the main track worth a gander are Recruiter (6-1) and Tuskegee Airmen (6-1). The former, trained by Cal Lynch, has won two main-track stakes and arrives off a dominant score over the Penn dirt. The latter, a John Servis trainee, won Delaware’s Rocky Run Stakes in his second career start.

Pletcher also has the morning line favorite for the Penn Oaks, that in the form of Princess Bettina (9-5). She won the China Doll Stakes last out while trained by Peter Eurton and will make her first start for Pletcher. Flavien Prat will ride.