The 5-year-old Florida-bred horse typically likes to rally from off the pace, but in the seven-furlong San Carlos Wild Dude raced near the front down the backstretch, pressing pacesetter El Nino Terrible through an opening quarter in :23.26 and a half-mile in :46.11.
Under confident handling from jockey Rafael Bejarano, Wild Dude put away El Nino Terrible around the far turn and grabbed the lead at the head of the lane with race favorite Conquest Two Step at his throat latch. He shrugged off the challenge of Conquest Two Step in the stretch and fought bravely to the wire, holding at bay the late charge of Kobe’s Back to prevail by three-quarters of a length. Wild Dude ran six furlongs in 1:09.79 and completed the seven furlongs in 1:21.91.
“I took a position and I didn’t have any pressure from the outside,” said winning rider Rafael Bejarano. “I just picked my spot and went from there. He was training so good coming into this race. By the three-eighths, I took off.”
It was the second graded stakes score of Wild Dude’s impressive career. He captured the Palos Verdes Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita last year, defeating Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) winner Secret Circle. He is also multiple graded stakes-placed, having finished second in both the 2014 Potrero Grande Stakes (G2) and this year’s Palos Verdes Jan. 31 in his first start since last April. Wild Dude is now a winner in five of 12 starts and has placed in five others. His latest victory increased his bankroll to $494,220.
Buyers will have their next opportunities to acquire runners by the late Wildcat Heir at the upcoming OBS March and April sales in Ocala, Fla. Wildcat Heir was Florida’s leading sire in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014. In 2014, he led all Florida stallions and ranked 24th in the nation with earnings of more than $6.2 million. Wildcat Heir’s runners have amassed earnings of more than $27 million, and he has sired 27 stakes winners, including Grade 1 winner Heir Kitty.