Major Dude with major move to win Penn Mile

Maybe it wasn’t a major statement, but it was a pretty strong one.

Three-year-old Major Dude overcame trouble at a critical point in Friday evening’s $400,000, Grade 2 Penn Mile, ran down Behind Enemy Lines, and emerged with the third graded stakes win of his young career. Major Dude won by three-quarters of a length over Behind Enemy Lines, with the longest shot on the board, 98-1 Fletcher, finishing third, 4 ½ lengths behind the runner-up.

Off as the 2-5 favorite, Major Dude returned $2.80 to win. The exacta with the second choice in the runner-up slot returned $6.20 on a two-dollar wager.

Trained by Todd Pletcher for Spendthrift Farm LLC, Major Dude now has four wins and $714,895 in earnings from 10 career outings.

Major Dude broke sharply to have a neck in front during the first run past the grandstand, but he and jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. were content to rate back off the early lick of Recruiter into the first turn, settling instead into third and along the inside. That seemed a cozy spot to be, but when Behind Enemy Lines made a quick move to attack the leader nearing the far turn, that suddenly put Major Dude in a tight spot: hemmed in along the rail with no seam available.


Nearing the lane, Ortiz was able to swing Major Dude to the outside, and the Bolt d’Oro colt soon found his best stride to overhaul Behind Enemy Lines. Running time for one mile on a firm turf course was 1:33.73.

Major Dude Penn Mile
Major Dude inched past Behind Enemy Lines to win the Penn Mile. Photo By Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

Fletcher, the longshot show horse, is trained by Chuck Lawrence. Lawrence also trained last year’s 83-1 Penn Mile winner, Wow Whata Summer.

One race prior to the Mile, Malleymoo, with jockey Trevor McCarthy in the irons, posted a front-running, half-length score in the $150,000 Penn Oaks. It was the first stakes win for the Jack Sisterson trainee, who is owned by a partnership of Rockingham Ranch, David A. Bernsen, LLC, Talla Racing and JWS Racing LLC.

Penn National’s turf course played lightning fast Friday night. Major Dude’s one-mile time wasn’t far off the track record of 1:33.12 set by Thunder Brew in 2010. In fact, Buy Land and See, six-year-old winner of the PA-bred With Anticipation Stakes actually bettered the record time, getting a mile in 1:32.13 – but in a 1 1/16-mile race. His time for the race of 1:38.07 was an eyelash off the track record of 1:38.00.

Major Dude and Behind Enemy Lines were the only runners in the Penn Mile to have appeared on the most recent Nick’s Turf 10 list of top turf three-year-olds. Major Dude entered the contest rated fifth, while Behind Enemy Lines was ranked seventh.