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Charles Town Classic: Game On Dude refuses to lose
CHARLES TOWN, W. Va. - Mike Smith wasn’t concerned when longshot Percussion outbroke him and Game On Dude in Saturday night’s $1.5 million Charles Town Classic.
He had other concerns.
“My main concern was he was slipping a lot,” Smith said. “I slipped leaving there. I slipped in the first turn. I slipped in the middle of the turn, but he just wouldn’t stop.”
Despite slipping all over the place, Game On Dude held off his California-based rival Clubhouse Ride and Ron the Greek to win the Charles Town Classic by one-half length, earning the $1 million first-place purse that went to the winner.
Clubhouse Ride, who finished second to Game On Dude in the Grade 2 San Antonio and Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap, was second by a nose over Ron the Greek. It was 7 1/2 lengths back to Percussion, who was followed in the order of finish by Caixa Eletronica and Isn’t He Perfect. Mordi’s Miracle scratched.
The win was the fourth straight and 13th from 25 career starts for Game On Dude, a 6-year-old gelding by Awesome Again. He has now earned $4,702,158.
“I’m a lot more relieved,” Baffert said from Southern California, where he watched the race. “That was tough to watch.”
Baffert did provide a reason why Game On Dude may have been slipping early. Baffert said he changed shoes to plastic shoes with no toe grabs, owing to the fact Game On Dude had lost a shoe in his 7 3/4-length victory in the Santa Anita Handicap on March 2.
“I’m running him in plastic shoes without a toe grab,” Baffert said. “I’m letting his foot grow out.”
Speed had been dominant all night at Charles Town and many figured Game On Dude was the primary speed of the race after Mordi’s Miracle scratched.
But it was obvious that trainer Todd Pletcher’s instructions to Kendrick Carmouche was to get Percussion to the early lead. Pletcher was also running Caixa Eletronica, last year’s Charles Town Classic winner, who would benefit from a contested pace.
Though it looked like the pace was swift, the fractions posted on the board were 25.96 seconds for the quarter, and 49.37 for the half. Smith had Game On Dude just outside of Percussion.
Down the backside, Game On Dude went to challenge for the lead, but Percussion was asked to keep up with him. Entering the far turn, Game On Dude did take command and opened up by about a length leaving the quarter pole.
Smith had to keep after Game On Dude - he smacked him twice left-handed - in the stretch and he was able to fend off Clubhouse Ride.
Game On Dude covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:52.27 and returned $2.60 as the 1-5 favorite.
“Bob’s horses can run getting hooked or even if a horse outruns him a little bit because he works them every time like that,” Smith said.
While Baffert wasn’t in attendance, his owners, including former Yankees manager Joe Torre and Bernie Schiappa, were present.
Torre, who wasn’t at Game On Dude’s easy Santa Anita Handicap score, said “my heart was pumping just about the same” as when he managed in the World Series.
“When he came around the top of the stretch, it looked like he was working really hard,” Torre said. “Mike said he didn’t like the track. He said he was slipping all over the place, but his heart got him there.”
Baffert said Game On Dude would return to Southern California and campaign there the remainder of the year leading up to the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita in November.
Why are there so many haters on the eastcoast? They refuse to give credit where it's due. I'm on the westcoast and I give eastcoast horses tons of credit when they have it coming. Eastcoasters hated Zenyatta, said she couldn't run on dirt, couldn't run in the east, and couldn't beat the big boys. Guess what? SHE DID!!! She would have retired undefeated if she didn't have traffic trouble and get stopped on the far turn, then she was still eating Blame up at the wire. Just a whisker late. But that's horse racing and our hats went off to Blame. Now it's Game on Dude who can't beat eastcoast horses. In the BC two years ago, didn't he outrun the eastcoast's best, on the eastcoast, only to get snipped at the wire by a horse he never saw ridden by Mike Smith? The question has been asked several times on this thread, but never answered. WHO ARE THESE EASTCOAST MONSTERS THAT GAME ON DUDE CAN'T HANDLE?
For a horse that so very many of you are so willing to dismiss as something less than great, answer this question: How many 6 year old geldings currently can boast winnings of $4,702,158.00? I would guess not a whole lot. That's not bad for a horse that only races "donkeys".
Lets see if Baffert has the stones to bring the Dude to the spa for the Whitney---thats a REAL Grade 1
No toe grab or bends? Of course the horse would slip. And run slower trying to hold the turns.
To the comments below that the Dude has only beat 'donkeys' and cannot handle the 'big boys', here is a list of who he has beaten in graded stakes efforts and their best result is in parentheses. You tell me if these are donkeys he beat: Stately Victor (G1) Ice Box (G1) Make Music for Me (G3) Twirling Candy (G1) First Dude (G1) Tizway (G1) Rule (G2) Tackleberry (G2) Coil (G1) Ruler on Ice (G1) So You Think (group 1) Havre de Grace (G1) Flat Out (G1) ToHonorandServe (G1) Stay Thirsty (G1) Richards Kid (G1) Rail Trip (G1) Ron the Greek (G1) etc... .... I'm not saying the Dude is Seattle Slew, but he has done about all that has been asked of him and he's done it in top company. Do people think every big race of the 70's, 80's, and 90's were over filled? Some stakes having small fields is nothing new.
Good news and bad news. Good news, Smith may be good for this horse, but Dude is better this year than last and better than he's ever been. Good news. The owners will have easy pickins back in Southern Ca winning big purses in 5 horse fields with no one but Cubhouse Ride to chase him around the track. Bad news. The racing fans will have to watch those Southern Ca races with Dude in 5 horse fields at 1-9 with no one but Clubhouse Ride to chase him around the track. Bad news. Breeders Cup.
Was this a stake race? Did owners have to put in a large amount of money to run this race? The purse is so big and they only attracted few horses, why?
whenever the dude and clubhouse run all u have to worry about is 3rd and 4th exacta triple super love it.
Hand-timing this against the replay suggests the final time is about two seconds off.
Hats off to "The Dude"--the pace scenario wasn't favorable for him and Pletcher had Carmouche do what was intended--and turning for home I was sure "The Greek" was a winner--but "The Dudue"showed so much grit, so much heart--over a surface that wasn't his best--and still won--we all must tip our hats to Bafferts runner--a truly great horse