Day At The Track

The Dude abides! millionaire Dapper Dude

04:00 AM 30 Nov 2018 NZDT
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Dapper Dude, harness racing
Dapper Dude’s Oct. 29, 2016 victory at The Meadows that sent him over $1 million in career earnings
Chris Gooden Photo

WASHINGTON, PA, Nov. 29, 2018 -- Harness racing produces its share of equine millionaires, but wealthy stallions 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 9-year-old son of The Panderosa-Dress To Suggest already has banked $1,280,130, and with a win or place in Saturday's Preferred Handicap Pace at The Meadows, he'll vault over $100,000 in seasonal earnings.

'The Dude' leaves from post 4 in race 8 with Aaron Merriman at the helm. First post Saturday is 1:05 PM.

Dapper Dude was a successful stakes performer in his youth. At 3, he was Pennsylvania's sires stakes champion, defeating Sweet Lou in the final, and he also captured the consolation of the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids. Richard Poillucci purchased him 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 crashing past $1 million on Oct. 29, 2016.

"The horse was racing basically at Yonkers, and he's not really a half-mile horse," Bill Bercury says. "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 says. "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.'"

Saturday's race will be something of a test for Dapper Dude, who's been off more than a month for palate surgery -- 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 incudes 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."

The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

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