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‘The Dude’ Abides, Keeps Rolling

Published: November 29, 2018 10:22 am ET

Last Comment: November 29, 2018 1:55 pm ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Harness racing produces its share of equine millionaires, but wealthy horses and mares frequently enter the breeding phase of their careers early while geldings often are retired as age and declining ability take their toll. Thus, there aren’t many seven-figure stars still racing.

Then there’s Dapper Dude.

The nine-year-old son of The Panderosa-Dress To Suggest has already banked $1,280,130, and with a win or place in this Saturday’s Preferred Handicap Pace at the Meadows, he’ll vault over $100,000 in seasonal earnings.

Dapper Dude – who can also be referred to as ‘Duder,’ ‘His Dudeness’ or ‘El Duderino,’ if, you know, you're not into the whole brevity thing – will start from Post 4 in Race 8 with Aaron Merriman at the helm. First post Saturday is 1:05 p.m.

Dapper Dude was a successful stakes performer in his youth. At three, he was Pennsylvania’s sires stakes champion, as he defeated Sweet Lou in the final, and he also captured the consolation of the Delvin Miller Adios. Richard Poillucci purchased Dapper Dude from Bob McIntosh’s ownership group and in 2016 sold him to the Bercurys — Renee as owner, her husband Bill as trainer — for $100,000.

That’s consistent with the Bercury approach: buy proven commodities, give fair prices for them and watch their earnings soar. Dapper Dude rewarded them by rolling past $1 million on October 29, 2016.

“The horse was racing basically at Yonkers, and he’s not really a half-mile horse,” Bill Bercury said. “He’s a big, gangly guy with some flaws in his gait that would make it difficult for him on a smaller track. When they called and asked if we wanted him, we didn’t even have him vetted.”

His gait may be imperfect, but his heart is huge. In many of his victories at the Meadows, he’s emerged from the final turn appearing gassed, strides shortening, challengers looming inside and out. Yet he almost always finds more.

“He’s full of energy and enthusiasm,” Bill Bercury said. “When he gets off the trailer at the Meadows, he starts strutting and bellowing. Everybody laughs, but he’s making a statement: ‘I’m here, and I’m ready to race you.’”

Dapper Dude, pictured victorious on Oct. 29, 2016, a win which pushed him past $1 million in career earnings

Saturday’s race will be something of a test for Dapper Dude, who hasn’t rolled for more than a month due to palate surgery, which was at least the second of his career.

“Anytime you have to take him back in a race, he flips his palate. He’s been doing it for the past year. We have absolutely no problem laying him off and spending the money on surgery. These horses take care of us, so we should take care of them. I told the doctor, ‘If there’s any chance the surgery won’t work, don’t do it.’ Did it work? Ask me after his second start back.”

The Bercurys have room for only six horses — remarkably, the current group includes another millionaire, Wind Of The North, who’s still racing — so they lack the space to retain their beloved old campaigners. When the top trotter Tamarind needed to be retired, the Bercurys placed him with Midwest horseman Nick Roland, who has bred Tamarind successfully. They have similar plans for Dapper Dude.

“There’s a home for him when we get done racing him,” Bill Bercury says. “We haven't told him that, by the way.”


November 29, 2018 - 1:55 pmReally like that horse. We

Really like that horse. We had one that did the same thing - bellowed really loud getting off trailer but was the gentlest stallion you could ever find.

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