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Dudesalady Exceeding Expectations

Published: March 20, 2018 4:07 pm ET

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When it comes to the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series, Dudesalady is a bit of a young lady. She is one of only two four-year-olds racing in the six-week event, but out to prove she can hold her own against some of harness racing’s best older female pacers.

In last week’s opening round of the series at Yonkers Raceway, Dudesalady finished third behind New Zealand-bred Sell A Bit and Medusa. Sell A Bit, an eight-year-old, was the runner-up in the 2016 Matchmaker championship; Medusa, a seven-year-old, was the runner-up in the 2017 final.

This week, Dudesalady will compete in the fifth of five $40,000 divisions Friday (March 23). She will start from Post 6 with Brent Holland driving for trainer Bruce Saunders. Her race will feature past Dan Patch Award winner Lady Shadow, who was a Matchmaker winner last week, as well as Australian-bred defending series champion Mackenzie.

“She came first up last week and held in against some tough mares,” said Doug Paul of the M And L of Delaware stable, which owns Dudesalady with Victoria Dickinson. “We’ll see how she does going forward. She keeps surprising us, so we’re not going to stop now.”

Dudesalady is by Shadow Play out of Accountable and comes from the same family as Dudes The Man, a winner of multiple stakes (including the 2015 Adios) for M And L of Delaware and Dickinson. Dudesalady was purchased for $40,000 under the name Solemn Oath at the 2015 Forest City Sale in Ontario.

Dudesalady (Photo courtesy Ken Weingartner)

For several months, Dudesalady appeared disinterested in following in her family’s footsteps. In fact, her connections put her in the 2016 Tattersalls Summer Mixed Sale at the Meadowlands, but pulled her out of the auction when Dudesalady began showing improvement.

“She’s been a nice surprise for us,” Paul said. “We were interested in her because of the family. But in May of her two-year-old year she could barely beat three minutes. She’s one of those horses that does just enough. When she hits the racetrack and goes behind the gate, she’s all racehorse. She’s turned into a good honest racehorse.”

Dudesalady has won nine of 34 career races and earned $188,038. As a two-year-old, she won the Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots Series championship. Last season, she was winless in 18 races, but finished second to eventual O’Brien Award winner Bettors Up in the Simcoe Stakes and finished third in the Ontario Sires Stakes championship.

This year, Dudesalady has raced exclusively at Yonkers for trainer Bruce Saunders. She has won four of eight starts and has hit the board a total of six times.

“She did [really well] in a lot of races last year, even though she didn’t win,” Paul said. “She had a lot of unfortunate trips. We knew she could get around a half-mile track. We normally don’t keep horses from (age) three to four, but in the long run we were going to probably keep her as a broodmare, so we decided to give her to Bruce and race her at Yonkers to see how she did. She’s exceeded our expectations.”

The Matchmaker and companion George Morton Levy Memorial series, for older male pacers, both feature five preliminary rounds followed by added-money finals April 21. A horse receives 25 points each time she or he races in the preliminary rounds. Points are also awarded based on finish, with 50 points for a win, 25 for second, 12 for third, eight for fourth, and five for fifth.

Joining Sell A Bit and Lady Shadow as winners in the Matchmaker’s first round were Twinkle and New Zealand-bred Shartin.

The second round of the Levy is Saturday at Yonkers. Winners in the opening round were Always At My Place, New Zealand-bred Bit Of A Legend, Dr J Hanover, Mach It So, and Rockin Ron.


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