11/02/2013 10:05PM

Breeders' Cup: Game On Dude's defeat concludes bittersweet weekend for Baffert

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Tom Keyser
Mike Smith won three Breeders' Cup races, but finished ninth aboard favored Game On Dude in the $5 million Classic.

ARCADIA, Calif. - A roller-coaster day of experiences and emotions ended on a down note for trainer Bob Baffert, who watched Game On Dude finish far back as the 8-5 favorite in Saturday’s $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita.

Contesting a hot pace while three-wide under Mike Smith, Game On Dude faded to ninth in the stretch, beaten 11 1/2 lengths.

[BREEDERS' CUP SATURDAY: Video replays and race results]

“It’s disappointing,” Baffert said. “Mucho Macho Man ran a great race. Dude was in a good spot. When he asked him to go he just didn’t have anything. Mike [Smith] couldn’t have done anything differently. It’s a shame it had to end like this.”

The loss by Game On Dude was his first in six starts this year and will undoubtedly cost him a shot at Horse of the Year. It was also his third loss in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, a race in which he finished second in 2011 and seventh last year.

The loss came on a day when Baffert won two Breeders’ Cup races, but also lost the 2-year-old filly Secret Compass, who suffered a fatal breakdown during the running of the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

“You got to take the good with the bad,” Baffert said, while still in his box seat 10 minutes after the race. “That’s what this game is. It’s a humbling sport. You just got to be prepared for all the letdowns.

“The filly from the fourth race, it hurts. It’s going to hurt for awhile,” Baffert added. “I can’t believe it happened because I really thought she had a chance to win it.”

In between the Juvenile Fillies and Classic, Baffert was in the winner’s circle with New Year’s Day in the Juvenile and Secret Circle in the Sprint. Coming into Saturday, Baffert had gone 1 for 25 (in 21 races) in the Breeders’ Cup since 2009.

Smith said the early pace was fast, but when he tried to ease Game On Dude a little bit off of Moreno and Fort Larned, his mount wanted no part of it.

“I tried to ease out to see if he’d drop it a little for me and then he was on it, with the crowd screaming he was on it,” Smith said.

 Smith said Gary Stevens, the rider of Mucho Macho Man, “was right there too, he was in front of us for a little while. He eased back and jumped to our outside real fast, didn’t he? When he did that, that was the winning move.”

For Smith, the loss in the Classic ended an up-and-down Breeders’ Cup weekend. He won three Breeders’ Cup races - the Marathon and Juvenile Turf on Friday - and the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint on Saturday, but lost on favorites Royal Delta in the Distaff and Game On Dude in the Classic.

“I wish my two big horses would have run better - Royal Delta for whatever reason didn’t run her race. Today it’s kind of strange - but all in all we had a great Breeders’ Cup,” Smith said.