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Jul 15, 2011

First Dude bounces back into NTRA Poll


New York, NY (Sports Network) - First Dude, trained by Bob Baffert, is back in the top 10 of the National Thoroughbred Poll following his nose victory in the Hollywood Gold Cup. The four-year-old colt had edged stablemate Game On Dude.

Holding onto the top spot in the voting continues to be four-year-old filly Havre de Grace. Owned by Fox Hill Farms, Havre de Grace received 10 first- place votes and 154 points. She will start in Saturday's Delaware Handicap against rival filly Blind Luck who is second in the poll.

Blind Luck, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, has a single first-place vote and 135 points in the latest tabulation. Saturday's Del 'Cap will be the sixth meeting between the rival fillies.

"We are not shy about going on the road because sometimes you have to do it," said Hollendorfer who also co-owns Blind Luck, "but all the guys who run, they all ship if they have too. We try to do the best thing for our horse, but the purse is big there, and we have never ducked anybody, especially with this filly. Sometimes we win and sometimes we take our lumps, but we are always in there trying. You know if you are running for big money, the race is supposed to be tough."

First Dude, owned by Donald Dizney, won the Hollywood Gold Cup by the smallest of margins over Game On Dude with even-money favorite Twirling Candy a neck back in third. First Dude was rewarded by poll voters with four top votes and 122 points after dropping out of the top 10 last week.

"First Dude is just a big old horse and you've just got to let him settle," Baffert said Saturday. "You just have to ride him with a lot of confidence and that's what Martin (Garcia) did."

Tizway dropped a spot to fourth with two first-place votes and 99 points. Game On Dude, also trained by Baffert, moved up three rungs to fifth with 63 points following the exciting Gold Cup at Hollywood Park.

First Dude and Game On Dude are likely to both start in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar on August 28.

Four-year-old filly Awesome Maria fell a spot to sixth with 56 points followed by Goldikova (1, 53), Animal Kingdom (48), Twirling Candy (42) and Man o'War winner Cape Blanco (30).

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