10/08/2013 12:36PM

Breeders' Cup Classic: Game On Dude has last 'easy' drill

Shigeki Kikkawa
Game On Dude, winning the Pacific Classic, will be asked for more during his workouts beginning next week, according to trainer Bob Baffert.

Three of the leading contenders for this year’s $5 million Breeders’ Classic worked at two different tracks on Tuesday morning, with Game On Dude tuning up at Santa Anita, site of the Breeders’ Cup, while Fort Larned and Will Take Charge got their work in at Churchill Downs.

Game On Dude was timed in 50.60 seconds for a half-mile, with regular work rider Martin Garcia aboard. Mike Smith has the mount in the Classic on Nov. 2. Bob Baffert, who trains Game On Dude, said he wanted an easy work this week, and that he’d “start cranking on him next week.”

“This was his last easy work,” Baffert said. “He was just cruising around there. We’re just trying to keep him happy. Really, though, he’s ready to go.”

Game On Dude has won his last six starts, including all five of his races this year, and is considered the current favorite both for the Classic and for Horse of the Year. He was in a similar position going into last year’s Classic, but ran poorly, finishing seventh as the favorite. He was second in the 2011 Classic at Churchill Downs.

At Churchill Downs on Tuesday, Fort Larned – the winner of last year’s Classic – went a half-mile in 49 seconds, while Will Take Charge worked five furlongs in 1:00.40.

Fort Larned “went great,” said his trainer, Ian Wilkes, who said regular jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. was aboard. It was his first work since winning the Homecoming Classic at Churchill on Sept. 28.

“It was just a maintenance work, let him stretch his legs,” Wilkes said from Kentucky. “He galloped out good.”

Will Take Charge, who comes off consecutive victories in the Travers Stakes and Pennsylvania Derby, will be facing older runners for the first time in the Classic.

“That horse is really looking good. He did that quite easily,” Lukas, also in Kentucky, said of the workout. “He’s getting better.”

Will Take Charge always has been an imposing animal. Lukas said he’s “starting to fill out.”

“He’s a big, strong horse,” Lukas said. “He’s eating better. He’s all muscled out. He’s gotten into the routine. I’m excited to get him out there.”

Lukas said Will Take Charge would continue to train and work at Churchill Downs until Oct. 22, when he sends his Breeders’ Cup horses – including Strong Mandate for the Juvenile, and Fast Bullet for the Sprint – to Santa Anita.

“I want to get a breeze in there,” Lukas said.

Pre-entries for the Breeders’ Cup are due on Oct. 21, and are announced Oct. 23. Final entries are taken, and post positions drawn, on Oct. 28.