08/13/2012 4:14PM

Del Mar: Game On Dude looking strong for Pacific Classic

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Game On Dude, with Chantal Sutherland riding, wins the Hollywood Gold Cup.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Even though it was a trip to forget, Bob Baffert returned from Dubai a changed man, and Game On Dude returned from Dubai a different horse.

Baffert suffered a heart attack there, and though it sounds like a made-for-television cliché, he’s taking things much easier than before that episode. Game On Dude ran poorly in the World Cup, but has come roaring back since then, with two victories, and has continued to train strongly in advance of the Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 26.

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On Monday morning, Game On Dude had his next-to-last work for the Pacific Classic, and he could not have looked better, easily moving past a workmate while covering six furlongs in 1:12.60, and leaving Baffert satisfied that Game On Dude was coming up to the race in excellent order.

“He went really good. Just breezing. I didn’t want to empty him out,” Baffert said as Game On Dude galloped out. “He’s just a different horse this year.”

Baffert is planning on running three horses in the Pacific Classic, with Jaycito and Richard’s Kid joining Game On Dude.

Sutherland ban in question

Rafael Bejarano worked Game on Dude On Monday, as he often does. Game on Dude’s regular rider, Chantal Sutherland, came out to watch the work from the stands. She had just returned from a trip to England, where she competed in an international jockey competition on Saturday, and came home with a four-day suspension for overuse of the whip.

The suspension, handed out by officials at Ascot, encompasses the dates of the Pacific Classic. But Nigel Macfarlane, the head of disciplinary for the British Horseracing Authority, on Monday in an e-mail said there was a provision for riders who have been suspended for four days or less to make an application to the authority to change the suspension days.

Sutherland’s agent, Tommy Ball, said he was in contact with the British agency to make that happen.

“I’m submitting today an official request to defer a day of her suspension,” Ball said Monday morning at Del Mar.

Ball said he would merely ask for the Pacific Classic day to be deferred to another day, but would accept the other suspension days surrounding Pacific Classic Day. The British Horseracing Authority suspends riders based on calendar days, not racing days, so Ball believed Sutherland would end up not riding at Del Mar Aug. 25 and Aug. 29

Over the weekend, Del Mar’s stewards said they would honor with reciprocity whatever the British agency ruled regarding Sutherland.

Having the he British Horseracing Authority defer or eliminate a suspension is not without precedent. On Friday, it “quashed” – according to the BHA’s website – a two-day suspension given to jockey John Fahy for a whip violation at Doncaster on Aug. 4.