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Pilgrim S. (G2) win earns Bolt d’Oro colt a Breeders’ Cup trip

October 3, 2022

Major Dude winning the 2022 Pilgrim S. (G2) at Aqueduct – Susie Raisher/NYRA

Major Dude game fought off I’m Very Busy to score a one-length victory in Sunday’s $200,000 Pilgrim S. (G2) at Aqueduct.

The 2-year-old colt is Bolt d’Oro’s fourth stakes winner this year, which is tied for the top spot on the First-Crop sire list.

The Pilgrim is part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” program, securing Major Dude a spot in the starting gate for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) next month at Keeneland.

Major Dude, who is owned by Spendthrift Farm, broke well but had to check off heels and was forced wide into the first turn. Fly Right opened up by several lengths in the second quarter, but his lead shrank quickly going into the final bend. Major Dude was three wide once again, yet took the lead with a quarter-mile to run.

Major Dude was quickly confronted by the on-rushing I’m Very Busy, who seemingly had all the momentum in mid-stretch. Major Dude, however, had energy in reserve, and surged clear late to earn a well-deserved victory.

“He’s a colt that we’ve really liked from the very beginning,” winning trainer Todd Pletcher said of Major Dude. “He was training well on the dirt and we gave him a couple opportunities and we just kind of got the feeling that we weren’t getting everything that we thought we had. So, I saw a couple of Bolt d’Oros were running well on the turf and said, ‘Let’s work him on the turf.’ Then it was like, ‘OK, that’s what we were hoping to see.’ I’m not surprised he stepped up today. He’s always been a very professional, straightforward colt. I’m happy he found what he was looking for.”

Pletcher confirmed that the Breeders’ Cup would be next up for Major Dude.

Sunday’s win improved Major Dude’s earnings to $165,250 and his record to 2-0-1 in four starts. The bay colt was bred in Kentucky by Clearsky Farms. His third dam is the immortal Personal Ensign.

Spendthrift purchased Major Dude for $550,000 out of the 2021 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearlings sale.