08/19/2013 3:44PM

Del Mar: Game On Dude on edge for Pacific Classic

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Game On Dude, winning the Hollywood Gold Cup, worked five furlongs in 59.60 at Del Mar on Monday, but it was his gallop-out that was most impressive.

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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.

[DEL MAR 2013: Complete meet coverage, schedule, race replays]

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.

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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