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Del Mar: Game On Dude on edge for Pacific Classic
By Jay Privman
DEL MAR, Calif. – Ever since he arrived at Del Mar this summer, Game On Dude has worked every six days. You could set your clock by it. On Monday, six days since his last work and six days in front of the Pacific Classic, he completed his serious training for the Grade 1, $1 million race with his sharpest drill of the summer, officially five furlongs in 59.60 seconds, but with a powerhouse gallop-out of another three furlongs.
“He needed that,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “He was getting fresh on me.”
Game On Dude was fourth in the Pacific Classic two years ago and was a close runner-up last year. Throughout his career, he has performed better on dirt than the Polytrack surface here, but this summer Del Mar’s surface has been tighter than in years past, highlighted by a track-record performance by the filly Reneesgotzip going 6 1/2 furlongs Sunday.
That, plus the way the horse has trained, gives Baffert confidence that Game On Dude will run his best race yet on a synthetic surface Sunday.
“I think the track’s a little bit tighter this year,” he said. “The weather’s been cool. When it gets hot, the track gets fluffy and sticky. You’ve got to keep it tight. Otherwise, it separates. It’s been tighter.”
Game On Dude has not raced since July 6, when he won the Hollywood Gold Cup at Betfair Hollywood Park. Monday’s work was his sixth here this summer, beginning July 20.
On Monday, Game On Dude broke off near the 5 1/2-furlong pole under jockey Martin Garcia, spotting workmate Bank the Eight a head start of about eight lengths. Track clockers took him from the five-eighths pole. Game On Dude steadily cut into Bank the Eight’s advantage, drew even with him at midstretch, and was about a length in front at the wire while going the easier of the two. Bank the Eight, a sprinter who competes in allowance and high-priced claiming races, received a five-furlong time of 1:01.
Game On Dude then proceeded to gallop out with enthusiasm. Track clockers had him going six furlongs in 1:11.60 and seven furlongs in 1:24.20. Baffert had him out the full mile in 1:37.20.
“All right, Bernie, now we’re ready,” Baffert said to co-owner Bernie Schiappa, who anxiously watched the work.
Schiappa then put Baffert on the phone with co-owner Joe Torre, who is scheduled to fly in for the race.
“Joe,” Baffert said, “he worked a lot better than Bernie. I’m going to have to school Bernie twice in the paddock.
“Dude’s ready to run.”
A large field is expected for the Pacific Classic, headed by Game On Dude and the winners of three of the last four runnings of the race, Dullahan (2012) and Richard’s Kid (2009-10).
Post positions for the race will be drawn Wednesday night, during a party at the Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa in nearby Rancho Santa Fe.
Dullahan, who worked five furlongs at Churchill Downs on Sunday in 59.80 seconds for trainer Dale Romans, flew here Monday. He was accompanied by the Mark Casse-trained Canadian invader Delegation, winner of the Dominion Day at Woodbine on Polytrack at 1 1/4 miles, the same distance as the Pacific Classic.
Others being considered for the race as of Monday were Byrama, Endorsement, Farraaj, Hawk’s Eyes, Jeranimo, Kettle Corn, Liaison, and You Know I Know.
Jeranimo worked a half-mile in 48.80 on Monday at Hollywood Park for trainer Mike Pender.
On Sunday at Del Mar, Kettle Corn went seven furlongs in 1:26.40 for trainer John Sadler.
Also Sunday, the filly Byrama worked five furlongs in 59.60. Trainer Simon Callaghan was still debating whether to run her against males or await the Grade 1, $500,000 Spinster Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 6.
Byrama, winner of the Grade 1 Vanity at Hollywood Park in June, was a troubled third most recently in the Grade 1 Clement Hirsch at Del Mar on Aug. 3.
– additional reporting by Steve Andersen
Looking at the Probables there doesn't look like there is a horse in the race that can warm up Dude the first half mile. I don't see how he can get beat other than the jock falling off..
I would love to see Dullahan give Game On Dude another reallity check again after all,he did break the track record in doing so!
I was at last year's Pacific Classic - I remember it like it was yesterday, not a year ago. I remember seeing Dullahan in the post parade and just being floored by how incredibly awesome he looked and changed my tickets in a hurry to key him more on my tickets than I had prior to seeing him in the post parade. I love Game On Dude - the Dude is an awesome specimen of a horse. But I'm having a hard time forgetting he is not particularly happy racing on synthetic and that Dullahan seems to adore synthetic surfaces. There can, of course, be a huge difference in performance in a year's time - time can change everything, and there is lots of intriguing competition in this race. I'm personally happy to see Byrama in this mix and will be supporting her along with Dude, Dullahan and a couple of other competitors. And, of course, I love seeing old timer Richard's Kid included in this race. I love that he's still out there mixing it up with other top contenders, giving it his all. He has heart & I love horses with heart - the quality of their competitive effort is what impresses me most. I'm looking forward to this year's Pacific Classic - it looks like it's going to be a really exciting, competitive race. Excellent racing luck to all, may we have a thrilling event, and may every horse return from this race healthy, happy & ready to compete at a high level again in future matches.
BIG bounce coming ......... Smith was smart to take Royal Delta !!!!
Game on Dude ? Let"s see, with Mike Smith aboard, he just wins$$. Rosario in to ride, not a bad replacement but just not Mike Smith. . Game on Dude just cruises in this Pacific Classic. Del Mar surface is and will be no problem for him, please, whoever said G O D didn't like the surface should realize that he just got beat by a better horse that day ( Dullahan ). And Dullahan , well , will need his better days behind him to come back to beat the Favorite Saturday. Game on Dude is the West Coast"s main event. The only horse in the race that has a chance to beat Dude is the Canadian Delagation . I am wondering after this weekend if we will see Smith ever ride Dude again ?
Joe & Bernie will be disappointed along with the rest, cause none will beat Kettle Corn this time.................Bob B will have to be content with Den's Legacy win Del Mar Derby !
10furlongs, a large competitive field and the synthetic track all spell disappointment for GOD. You guys can take 4/5 if you like but I've read this book before, Wise Dan best horse in training not GOD.
I have immense respect for Game on Dude and he is a deserving favorite, but I'm not taking low odds in a race Dude has failed to win in 2 prior attempts. Dullahan is obviously a huge threat if he runs back to his performance in this race last year. But my philosophy has been to make Dullahan beat me; I just don't fully trust him, although this is his best chance to win another grade 1. The two horses I will likely key on are Kettle Corn and Delegation. Kettle Corn is in career form, having run a 112 Beyer when 2nd in the Hollywood Gold Cup and winning the gr.2 San Deigo over the Del Mar Poly in his last. Delegation is a lightly raced horse coming in off a breakthrough effort when winning the gr.3 10f Dominion Day by 9+ over the Woodbine Poly while earning a fig of 110. He has the tactical speed to keep Game on Dude within reach, and then make first run at him, getting the jump on the closers.
Keep the hype up on dude draft more is better
The best horse in training in the country right now is Game on Dude , the word is Awesome Again !!!!! He is one hell of a sire
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