04/21/2013 4:08PM

Charles Town Classic winner Game On Dude likely to focus on California stakes

Coady Photography
Game On Dude was awarded a 105 Beyer Speed Figure for his win in the $1.5 million Charles Town Classic.

Game On Dude returned to Southern California Sunday afternoon, less than 24 hours after earning a $1 million payday for his hard-fought, half-length victory over Clubhouse Ride in Saturday night’s $1.5 million Charles Town Classic. Chances are, the 6-year-old gelding will remain home for the remainder of the year with an eye toward the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita in November.

 A race such as the Grade 1, $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 6 - a race Game On Dude won last year - seems a likely target, though Baffert didn’t totally rule out taking Game On Dude on the road again for a race such as the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs on June 15. That race is expected to attract defending Horse of the Year Wise Dan.

 “He’s a gelding, he needs to run for at least $500,000, he runs well fresh, and he’s easy to train so I can train him up to a race,” Baffert said at Santa Anita on Sunday.

 Baffert may take advantage of the additional time between now and the Hollywood Gold Cup to allow Game On Dude’s right front foot to grow out some. Game On Dude lost a shoe in the Santa Anita Handicap and “he tore his right front up a little bit,” Baffert said.

 That was the reason Baffert switched to plastic shoes without toe grabs for the Charles Town Classic. Jockey Mike Smith said that Game On Dude slipped repeatedly during the Classic, which may explain why perhaps he wasn’t dominant as he had been in previous outings this year.

“He’s been working well in them so I didn’t want to change for the race, but it doesn’t look like they were good for that track,” Baffert said.

 Clubhouse Ride, who has now finished second to Game On Dude in three straight graded stakes, also returned to California on Sunday.

 His trainer, Craig Lewis, said a race like the $300,000 Pimlico Special on May 17 could be an option or he could wait for the $150,000 Californian at Betfair Hollywood Park on June 1.

 Lewis said he would not necessarily look to avoid Game On Dude in selecting his next start.

 “What I don’t want to get away from is the money. I like the money,” said Lewis, whose horse earned $250,000 for finishing second. “If we have to go where Game On Dude is to get it, we will. He’s made a nice living chasing Game On Dude. As you know, he’s a beast.”

 Meanwhile, Charles Town officials said Sunday that they will review the fractions and final time of the Classic to determine if the teletimer was inadvertently tripped prematurely. The fractions were 25.96 seconds for the quarter, 49.37 for the half-mile, 1:13.38 for six furlongs, 1:38.85 for the mile, and a final time of 1:52.27 for 1 1/8 miles. It is believed those posted fractions were about two seconds slower than reality.

 Game On Dude, owned by Joe Torre, Bernie Schiappa, Lanni Family Trust and Mercedes Stable, was assigned a 105 Beyer Speed Figure for the performance.

 - additional reporting by Jay Privman