08/19/2013 3:44PM

Del Mar: Game On Dude on edge for Pacific Classic

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

Quite A Dude More than 1 year ago
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..
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Delegation and especially Endorsement have speed. Battit Man, if he were to run, is very fast. Dude won't have it quite like he did in the Hollywood Gold Cup.
cody e More than 1 year ago
TEDK215 More than 1 year ago
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!
Jordan More than 1 year ago
What's interesting is that when Game on Dude first came out to California, his reputation was very modest. And he didn't set Cali on fire. That winter all the hype was on Twirling Candy. Game on Dude was seen as Twirling Candy's rougher, tougher, blue collar rival. And Game on Dude was able to outgame Twirling Candy in both the Big Cap and the Hollywood Gold Cup, although in the latter he won the battle but lost the war to stablemate First Dude. With a mediocre 4th in the Pacific Classic that year, Dude went into the 2011 BC Classic way under the radar. His 2nd was a surprise to most, even those in Cali. Game on Dude's transformation from a tough pro to an elite star began after he returned from the 2012 Dubai World Cup. Since then, he has won 8 of 10. The first loss was the tough one to Dullahan in the Pac Classic and the other was the BC Classic debacle. Because Dude's emergence as a top racehorse transpired over a good period of time, and since the initial impression he presented was that of a game and durable but marginally talented pro, few even in Cali have tried to portray Dude as some all-time great. But since he has been able to dance so many dances, and because we have been able to see him progress with age, myself and others have developed a strong respect for the horse. And the scope of his accomplishments havve become too extensive to simply be dusted aside. It takes a really good horse to win 12 graded stakes, 6 grade 1s, and $5 million in earnings.
prose More than 1 year ago
Look, your horse has beat no one, get it? When the big guns arrive for the Classic this fall it will be --- to use your term -- another debacle. He beats up nothings in his own back yard where Baffert --the Chemist from the West -- controls the shots. When security barns and sophisticated drug testing are in place -- as they are on Breeder's Cup day -- GOD doesn't stand a chance. You know, Jordan, there's a reason why Bob Baffert has NEVER won a Breeder's Cup Classic.
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
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.
morton erskine More than 1 year ago
BIG bounce coming ......... Smith was smart to take Royal Delta !!!!
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
THIS, is horseracing soooo.....Let's wait and see.
Jim Qaukey More than 1 year ago
I bet his pay check will not said that on breeder cup day if he's on RD and not the Dude !!
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
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 ?
Cover2 More than 1 year ago
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 !
A Yahoo! User More than 1 year ago
Kettle Corn is a good horse! That 2nd place finish in the Gold Cup was amazing. But everyone was just paying attention to the Dude. Yea Game on Dude had a big gap on the field but get this: Kettle Corn was last at that point. & when he moved up to 2nd under Rafael Bejarano he was closing that gap. I swear if the finish line wouldnt've come yet, I couldve seen Kettle Corn taking the Hollywood Gold Cup. But what happened happened.
Rob Beaudoin More than 1 year ago
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.
Jim Qaukey More than 1 year ago
Wise Dan is just a turf miler , the last time he face a good field of horses at 9f it was 2 years ago , if Dan ran the Dude on dirt at 9f the Dude would smash him !! So we don't want to talk able 10f Dan couldn't bring Game On Dude his water bucket at that distance , the best horse in training can run pass a mile in G1 more than one time , and he can do it this year not two years ago against 3 year old baby's , bring Dan to the BCC so the world can see that his is very what he is a very good TURF MILER !!!!!
Rob Beaudoin More than 1 year ago
The horse has run huge on everything every yr, G O D just stays in his backyard facing small fields and bullies them, Everytime he ships he regresses even if he wins, I would take Dan on 2 of the 3 surfaces and on dirt not at Santa Anita or the now defunct Hollywood i'd take him 7/10 on dirt too. Can't believe you are going to question what that horse has done, he's run everywhere. Dan has won graded stakes on all 3 surfaces ranging from 6f on a synthetic to 9f in a GRADE 1 on the DIRT. This horse would run on rusty nails. GOD is a very talented one trick pony who when facing top notch competition not in his backyard is very vulnerable. Especially at 3/5 or so.
Rob Beaudoin More than 1 year ago
if he can face 5 horses and 3 of them are hapless and get a 25.0 first quarter uncontested he can win at that distance. Any decent horse would
Jim Qaukey More than 1 year ago
If the Dude stays in his back yard in Cali and bully everyone there , what was that when he traveled to mid-east Charlestown for a million and a half , that wasn't his back yard where was the east coast horses , oh I'm sorry they didn't come outside because they didn't want to be BULLIED !!!! In there back yard LOL sooner or later they is have to face the Bully , or they can do like Dan and stay where u belong Turf Mile
Rob Beaudoin More than 1 year ago
HAHA Jim, Since being stabled in California back at the start of 2011 he is 11/13 @ Santa Anita or Hollywood and 1 for 7 anywhere else. And you pick the one time he wins out of 7 starts and that proves your point?? HAHAHA. Again 11-13 Hollywood or SA and 1-7 anywhere else. These are facts, not opinions. And don't even try to do the same with Wise Dan cause you will prove my point for me. In the best interest of Horseracing I too hope they run against each other to prove it on the track but until then I can have my opinion and state my facts and you can have your opinion and state your OPINION.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
It does seem Dude is not quite as effective when he has to ship, but it's not like he has run horribly every time he leaves Cali. Since January of 2011, Dude is 1 for 5 outside Cali. Your stats were a little confusing to me because you included his 2 Del Mar races with the 5 out of state efforts. Looking at those 5 non-Cali races, the first was a 2nd in the 2011 $1 million Charles Town Classic. it wasn't an elite effort, but Game on Dude wasn't viewed as an elite horse then. Behind thim hat day were a number of quality horses, including that year's Met Mile and Whitney winner, Tizway. Dude's next non-Cali start was a modest 3rd in the Lone Star Cap. Dude didn't run particularly well that day, but the result looks better given it was Awesome Gem and Flat Out ahead of him. Dude's 3rd non-Cali start of 2011 was the BC Classic, when Dude exceeded almost everyone's expectations by running 2nd. It was a very good effort. The 4th race, the Dubai World Cup, is basically a throw-out. The 5th start was Dude's Charles Town Classic win this year. So, since 2011, Dude's non-Cali record is 5-1-2-1; $2 million. Dude's 2011 non-Cali starts, two 2nds and a third, reflect the horse Dude was at the time, solid and tough, but far from a win machine. Since Dude came back from Dubai he has been a much better horse, as reflected in a Beyer jump from 102s to 109-117. Dude is 8 for 10 post-Dubai. and he won his lone non-Cali race. So, I agree that Dude is best at Santa Anita and Hollywood. He's respectable at Del Mar but not quite as good. When shipping, Dude is still a solid runner, while maybe just a tad slower than his Santa Anita or Hollywood form. But it's not a sin for a horse to be slightly inferior when shipping. And it's not like Dude is Lava Man, who came completely apart and ran horribly everytime he shipped. For the most part, Dude's non-Cali starts reflect the quality of horse Dude was at the time, while maybe just a length or two slower.
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
Rob! The owners are trying to MAKE MONEY! :-) They don't listen to you and I. The could care less about what we think or say. Don't you wish you had that 5 mil G O D has already banked? It's real money you know?
Rob Beaudoin More than 1 year ago
Ya no kidding, I would do the same thing if I knew I had twice the racehorse when not forced to ship. That doesn't mean I have to endorse him going 10f on a syntheric surface at 4/5 against those horses. Does it? Or can I not give my OPINION ( which is what we are all doing, and no the owners or trainers don't care and shouldn't) on the fact that I believe Wise Dan would wipe the floor with GOD on a synthetic or turf surface 9 out of 10 times at any route distance and I also believe on a NON California track Wise Dan would beat GOD in these big field classic races 6 out of 10 times. Sorry for having an opinion.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
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.
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
Keep the hype up on dude draft more is better
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
Jim Qaukey More than 1 year ago
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