Dapper Dude, the engaging millionaire who for several years has thrilled fans at The Meadows with his gritty, heart-stopping wins, is back. Following a brief sojourn at Plainridge Park, the 10-year-old son of The Panderosa-Dress To Suggest will take on the track’s elite pacers in Saturday’s $20,000 Open Handicap Pace.
The feature goes as race 8, with Dapper Dude and Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. leaving from post 4. The card begins at 1:05 PM.
Dapper Dude has won more than $1.3 million and 54 races in his distinguished career. In many of those victories, he cut the mile but appeared gassed and ready to give it up before rallying again. Those sorts of heroics made him a fan favorite.
When Massachusetts-based Micki Rae Stables acquired Dapper Dude earlier this year and shifted him to Plainridge, it appeared the move would work, as he won his initial start there. But he was off the board his next three outings; worse, the personable old boy seemed to mope in his new surroundings.
Micki Rae paid attention and returned him to The Meadows and trainer Tim Twaddle, where he’s regained some of his swagger.
“I’m still working on getting his weight back, but he’s on the right track,” Twaddle says. “He’s quieted down quite a bit, but he’s happy. We’re hoping for another confidence-builder.”
Last week, Dapper Dude won a high-level Conditioned Pace in 1:49.3, just three ticks off the mark he took as a sophomore. He’ll need all that and more Saturday, as the field includes a formidable duo from trainer Ron Burke: Windsong Leo (post 8, Dave Palone), who’s won 23 times over the past two seasons, and Real Peace (post 5, Aaron Merriman), a neck loser to Dapper Dude last week.
“He trained very sharp going into last week, so I knew he would give a good accounting of himself,” Twaddle says. “He’s so courageous. If they’re within his sight, he’ll mow them down. You can’t breed that. They either have it or they don’t.”
Twaddle indicates he’ll leave Saturday’s race strategy up to Wrenn.
“I never want to take the reins out of anybody’s hands,” he says. “So many things can happen, and I don’t want to tie the driver’s hands.”
Saturday’s program also features a number of fan-centric activities presented by the track and the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA), including five “Hot Dog Pig Races,” believed to be a first for The Meadows. In several of those heats, the pigs will be asked to jump hurdles. In addition, the MSOA will offer “Family Fun Day” activities.