04/21/2013 5:08PM

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


Bellwether4U More than 1 year ago
That track looked really nice for the W.V. Classic...Why would anyone want to call it a dump???...It was a hell of a race for a ton of money...
John Stevelberg More than 1 year ago
Truth is he needs to stay in CA. Lucky to come out of that West Virginia "dump" in one piece. If he had lost Baffert would never hear the end of it - yes I know he won. I say the above even though I was a reluctant "show pool bridge jumper" only because they have to pay $2.20 in West Va. -- admittedly I was worried - he did win though - whew !
Sharjil Ahmad More than 1 year ago
They would not race him outside Cali unless for a huge purse. He's gelding. He doesn't need to earn respect. He needs to earn money, and in Cali, he can run against low quality horses in big money races from now until BC time comes. And then we'll see what he is made of. Seems like every time he runs against a better than average graded field, he folds..... But I believe he is talented enough to perform one big performance, come Breeders Cup.
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
True. He might have regressed a bit off those two monster efforts before this race. But somewhere in all this, I get the feeling that if the lead or rabbit horse is fast enough, Game on Dude will "rate" willing within what is essentially his normal cruising speed allows him to at least stay in touch at the front of the pack? Forgotten in all this is the fact that it has been a long way back from his Belmont Stakes days. He has matured into a very nice older horse.
Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
How about keeping the horse at home from here on out Bob? There are plenty of opportunities for him there leading up to his curtain call, the BC Classic.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
In addition to the shoes and slipping, it's possible that Game on Dude simply regressed some off the San Antonio and Big Cap. Keep in mind that Baffert kept the Dude in training after the Breeder's Cup fiasco, running him in December in a race that Nonios really pushed him. Then Baffert set his sights on the Big Cap, using the San Antonio as a prep; Dude ran huge in both those starts. After Dude won the Big Cap, and won so easily, Baffert then started thinking about the Charles Town Classic, with its monster purse to the winner. With Dude in career form and having run at Charles Town before, it made sense for Baffert and the owners to push on with Dude. But the Big Cap had been the primary early season target, and Baffert had the Dude ready to turn in arguably his career best effort. Not surprising that Dude would regress some next out in a race that was more of an afterthought following the Big Cap.
Mark. More than 1 year ago
Game On..........Dude!
MD23 More than 1 year ago
If he runs in the Hollywood Gold Cup, it'll be a 5 horse field and Game On Dude will be 1-9
Peter R More than 1 year ago
If Ron the Greek didn't have a dope face for a jockey Game on Dude would have lost that race. The trip Greek got was so bad I can't even describe it, off slow and pinched on the rail in the stretch. Game on Dude was beaten, he was all out to put away the early speed. Good ride by Mike Smith to rate Dude a bit and hang on for the W.
Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
If you haven't noticed, Ron the Greek is declining at a rapid pace. He is just about ready for retirement.
John Piassek More than 1 year ago
I hope he doesn't stay in California. He's got nothing left to prove there.