08/13/2013 4:36PM

Del Mar: Game On Dude skips over Polytrack in Pacific Classic work


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DEL MAR, Calif. – Fourth in the Pacific Classic in 2011 and second last year, Game On Dude will come into this year’s edition of the Grade 1, $1 million race on Aug. 25 riding a five-race win streak. But, most significantly, he appears to be handling Del Mar’s Polytrack surface much better than in years past.

On Tuesday morning, Game On Dude had his penultimate drill for the 1 1/4-mile Pacific Classic, and while the time was ordinary, the manner in which he did it was extraordinary. Game On Dude skipped over the track – didn’t seem to be fighting his way through it – while covering five furlongs in 1:02.40. Seemingly bored by working alone and so slowly, Game On Dude picked up steam after the work was over and powerfully galloped out another quarter-mile.

“He was cruising. Did it the right way,” Bob Baffert, trainer of Game On Dude, said as Game On Dude jogged off the track after the work. “I’m very happy with him. He didn’t do anything fast. We already know he’s fast.”

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Game On Dude has used his speed to win eight of his last 10 starts. His five-race win streak has coincided with joining forces with jockey Mike Smith. But Smith is scheduled to be at Saratoga on Aug. 25 to ride Royal Delta in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign, so Joel Rosario has picked up the mount. Martin Garcia deputized for the work Tuesday. Game On Dude is scheduled to have his final work next Monday.

The Pacific Classic will feature a rematch between the top three finishers from last year’s race – Dullahan, Game On Dude, and Richard’s Kid. Dullahan is at Churchill Downs, where he worked Sunday and where he is scheduled to work again this Sunday before traveling to California early next week.

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

In addition to those three, others pointing to the Pacific Classic include Delegation, Farraaj, Holding Glory, Jeranimo, Kettle Corn, Sky Kingdom, and You Know I Know.

Jeranimo, winner of the Grade 1 Eddie Read on turf here in his last start, worked five furlongs in 1:00.80 on Tuesday morning at Betfair Hollywood Park for trainer Mike Pender.

Walter More than 1 year ago
Fact is SoCal doesn't have a handicap division to speak about! Baffert & the owners are very fortunate to have Dude at this time. He just enters & picks up the big purses at the three SoCal tracks. Someone from another region should seize the opportunity and come run in SoCal vs. the Dude. They may see some success.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Absolutely. California is not an island. Planes and Trains do travel in and out of California. The way I look at it, 5 horse fields such as for the $500k grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup is not just an indictment of the locals, it's also an indictment of the entire division. Horsemen and their horses follow the money. When the purse for a race is good, and the connections feel the horse is going to run big and that it compares favorable to the local horses, the horse is shipped out. The thing about California racing is that in almost every division there are at least 1 or 2 elite runners, but not much depth. That might not sound like it should scare off shippers, but it does when combined with the second main factor, minimum or near minimum purses per grade level. For the majority of Cali stakes races, the purse structure is $250-$300k for grade 1s, $150k for grade 2s, and $100k for grade 3s. You won't see races like the Fourstardave in Cali, a grade 2 with a purse of $500k, well over the miminum needed for a grade 2. The relatively lower purses per class level is key because if a trainer or owner contemplating shipping out to Cali feels that the two elite local runners will be hard to beat, and that the earnings for running 3rd in the $250k grade 1 race is just $25k, the connections might conclude that they are better off just staying at home and winning some optional claimer; to make $25k winning a race, all that is needed is a total purse of about $45k, the types of purses middling claimers run for. So, while the fields drawn for Cali stakes race might not appear that good, all it takes is 1 or 2 really good horses to scare away shippers that would really boost the attractiveness of the field.
mike turfmonstr More than 1 year ago
Dude Rolls?? really.....didn't roll last year as the lone speed, seems if memory serves he was beaten by a 3 year old.....oh yeah Dullahan. Dullahan who came into the race off a horrid run in his previous race. The fact that Romans may have finally "gotten it" as to Dullahan being a Poly only horse......(.and yes Clint there is a difference in Syn surfaces) his only mistake perhaps not running at Dmr early in the meet and adding a win before the Classic instead of running in that "cheapie" Grade 3 at Arlington......which if you know anything about Dullahan you know he isn't a turf horse by any stretch of the imagination. Funny thing is he did run third......a very close third to a couple of decent older turfers....something he's never done before....well except for that race at Gulf where he ran on turf for the first time and closed late to Howe Great before winning the Blue Grass on POLY a tick off the track record, that is before Wise Dan ran his 1:46 and change two weeks later. You gotta love the railbirds.....Game On Dude This and Game On Dude That.......I personally like the horse, I bet him the day he broke his maiden at Gulf.....knew he'd be a good one then, I'm not much for jumping on the bandwagon a bunch of wins later. Bet with your head, not your heart......though the race is generally a pass for me, no odds.......Game On Dude just isn't his best at 1 1/4m's..... He's never beaten anyone of substance at the distance, unless of course you think Richard's Kid, a reformed 25,000 claimer is substance. Drosslemeyer??? really he's another titan of the turf and he couldn't beat him. Simple fact is 1 1/8th is his limit against good horses, further and it's an iffy proposition.....it's there on paper if anyone cares to look. The problem is some folks think beating up on the same horses over and over..... and folks the older division in CA isn't that good, makes Game On Dude the best thing since sliced bread, it doesn't.....not by a longshot, It means Bob Baffert smart that's all. If GOD were really that good he'd be at Saratoga to run in the Whitney. If people think a 1:02 work over DMr's surface means GOD's finally liking the track I'd guess again. The simple fact is Dullahan is 4 now, better than he was coming in last year and if you get 3-1 or better you'd be smart and bet him....me? NO, I don't bet below 5-1....but I don't have to. They'll be no excuses......GOD couldn't beat him last year when Dullahan was only 3....he has no shot this year......so you'd be smart and listen to AZ Wildcat...... he knows what he's talking about.
You Feel Lucky More than 1 year ago
Why go east to run for $250,000 less?
Big Jeff More than 1 year ago
Your asking a common sense question of inconvenient truth of a person who just spent who knows how long to do nothing but talk down a horse.
mike turfmonstr More than 1 year ago
You're correct, why indeed. But If you read between the lines I said baffert was smart, he could pass the Whitney at a distance GOD excels at and come out smelling like a rose....after all It's 250,000 less. Truth is though there were a few reasons, of course the money....but the most important reason was the competition. Why run for 250,000 less on a track he's never run on against horses it's dicey he even hit's the board.....Cross Traffic, Ft Larned......even Mucho Macho Man aren't Clubhouse Ride and Richards Kid.....then of course there's the Woodward.....1 1/8th.....but you'd have to add Successful Dan to the mix. Better to stay home, I don't blame Baffert for that it was smart. Like I said....it's more about Baffert being smart than GOD being a super horse. Secondly I'm no horsey hater.....give it a rest. I said I liked GOD, he's tenacious. I had him when he broke his maiden at Gulf many moons ago, something I doubt 99.9% of the posters here did. After the race I wrote about him on Dan Illman's blog....said he'd be a good one so stop already. It's just reality, which many folks refuse to believe, like their eye's are lying to them. I've made money betting against him more than once and was paid nicely......Doesn't mean I "hate" him, just means I'm a realist and like money more. Look at it this way.....8 to 5 or less for a horse to win at a track and distance he's done neither on? For What? bragging rights? I told ya so? Is there anyone out there interested in making money? I bet Dullahan last year at 5-1 it was well worth it.....this year? 3-1 doesn't entice me......it's a horse race, betting 3-1 or less is just foolish in my book.....anything can happen and betting races at low odds is a fast way to the poor house. GOD may finally "wake up" at DMR.....maybe he wins by a pole.....but betting him at short odds to do something he's never done before isn't the brightest idea.....I'll pass the race, if Dullahan wins? so what.....he figured to, If God wins? again so what....you can say "I told ya so"?.....at 5 and change? I'll bet races that pay me...everyone else can have bragging rights.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
You've just provided the argument for running in the Pacific Classic. You make it sound criminal that Baffert would want to run for $250k more against what is arguably a weaker field. Isn't that what every owner and trainer is looking to do? It's about making money, not some 19th century concept of valor and nobility. And why must Baffert be noble, but the Eastern horses running for less money don't have to live up to the same standards? Hey, I know those Eastern horses are stabled at Saratoga, and I know shipping is difficult, and I know they might be better at 9 than 10 furlongs, and I know they might not like the poly, but they should display some dignity and do the sporting thing and run in the Pacific Classic? The fact they would chose the Woodward over the Pacific Classic shows how "smart" these Eastern horsemen are, and by smart I mean devious and cowardly. At least the person wanting the Easterners to be noble can point to the fact the Pacific Classic has the bigger purse. Again, you make Baffert's "smarts" seem criminal, like he is hiding the horse away from "true" competition, as if there is some gate keeping all the Eastern horses out of California. The Cali graded stakes series for older males is actually very strong. There are 4 grade 1 races, 3 at 10 furlongs, and 3 with a purse of at least $500k. There are also nice preps like the Strub, San Antonio, Californian, and San Diego. Unless a horse doesn't like one of the surfaces, there's no need to ship out., particularly when the Breeder's Cup is being held in California. I've asked this before on other articles, but where should Game on Dude have run if not in the Santa Anita Handicap? And remember, it is a $750k grade 1 on dirt. Where would you have run Dude if not in the Hollywood Gold Cup, a $500k grade 1 over the best synth surface and a synth surface that allows dirt horses to run their races? And where would you have run Dude if not in the Pacific Classic, a $1 million grade 1? Well, you already gave your answer for the last question. So,folks believe Dude should have been shipped across the country for races with smaller purses and lower grades? Why aren't these same people asking why the Eastern horses didn't ship out to Cali for the big purse grade 1s? Why is it that Dude comes under criticism for not shipping more and yet the Eastern horses aren't held to the same standard? That, to me, is the bigger question. And it's especially baffling considering that they are running for less money against supposedly tougher fields. Maybe their owners and trainers recognize that shipping isn't easy and that these supposed weak Cali handicap fields, with Game on Dude there to be faced, are perhaps not so weak? Otherwise, wouldn't they ship out more?
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
Interesting that the Del Mar 1 1/4 mile record holder will meet the Woodbine 1 1/4 mile record holder and Game on Dude is not a part of that conversation.
Jim Fields More than 1 year ago
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
If you had all their horses worth less than 10k you would go broke in the business very quick.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
I'll bet Baffert and Pletcher would have no problem giving you those horses worth less than 10k, and wouldn't cost a dime to get them. At about 3k each a month to keep in training I wouldn't advise it.
Big Jeff More than 1 year ago
It's ok Jim, I get it.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
That is so cute, but so wrong.
Clint Locklear More than 1 year ago
You are delusional. Dullahan just finished 3rd in a grade 3 at forgotten Arlington "Illinois Fair Circuit" Park. Before that he was 11th twice on poly (tapeta, synth, plastic, whatever). Weak group, Dude rolls.
AZ Wildcat More than 1 year ago
Delusional huh? Well not all synthetics are Poly there Skippy... He has run four times on Poly and has four wins. Dude gets second again. Back to the rail for you...
B More than 1 year ago
I hope you are right about Dude. He's done more than any other horse this year, but I worry about the surface and the jockey change. I can't stand Dullahan. He was promoted so much as a three year old and he disappointed time after time after time. A major sucker bet many times. He's got this thing for Polytrack though and that is a cause for concern that he will freak again, though he seems even a worse horse than last year. Man, will I be upset if he wins. He would probably be the worst horse in history to win a major Grade 1 race twice in a row.
AZ Wildcat More than 1 year ago
Dullahan will destroy the field and set yet another track record, count on it. He is the perfect Poly horse. Can't run well on anything else but he is 4/4 on Poly, all in Grade 1 races. Rosario just jumped off the winner.
Perl More than 1 year ago
Keep going to that well and eventually you'll get burned.
bryan johnson More than 1 year ago
maybe rosario wants the mount on GOD for the classic if he can pull this win off....dullahan wouldnt be a factor in the classic everyone knows that...and maybe royal delta might go in the classic this year or palace malice for mike smith
EddySealy More than 1 year ago
Why Martin Garcia is not riding the dude? How could bob put up Rosario when Garcia has won some many races for him and continue to win for him...I hate it when these trainers dis the jocks that do all the work for them.
Anil More than 1 year ago
I agree 100%.... This is ridiculous.
bryan johnson More than 1 year ago
1 mill$ up for grabs you got to take the best avail
Daniel Garcia More than 1 year ago
The owners choose the jockey. Not the trainer.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Game on Dudes gets criticized for beating "the same weak fields". In the $500k Hollywood Gold Cup, a race Dude won the year before on a track over which he was 3 for 4(with a nose defeat), only 4 challenged Dude and none of them were shippers. Add an additional $500k and run a race over a surface that Dude is 0 for 2 on, and presto, we get a 10 horse field with 3 shippers. When people criticize Game on Dude(or Wise Dan for that matter) for beating poor fields, they suggest that Baffert is waiting around to see which races draw the worst fields, and then run Dude there. The opposite is actually the truth. Dude's schedule has been fairly transparent. The field for the Gold Cup came up soft because few wanted to run aginst Dude on that track for $500k. But for $1 million, on a track it appears Dude doesn't like as much, they are more willing to take a chance. The quality of fields Dude or any top horse faces is shaped by what other trainers and owners do with their horses, and when they don't think they can beat him and the money is not right, they won't run. It's just shows how much respect Dude has, at least for his Hollywood form, that $500k wasn't seen as enough to to warrant taking a shot against him.
Edward More than 1 year ago
Fine up until you mention Wise Dan who runs in races with far less then 500k purses. The Firecracker?
Jordan More than 1 year ago
The Firecracker was the exception for Wise Dan. In his 8 race win streak, all but the Firecracker were either grade 1s or $500k. 5 of the 8 have been grade 1s, and there have been the 2 Fourstardaves, a grade 2 race, with its large purse. The Firecracker was a curious spot, and it really got the criticsm going.
Lawrence Macselwiney More than 1 year ago
Eloquently stated my friend. The problem is the board is populated by those who type before they think. Bafferts never ducked a race. Love him or hate him he ships everywhere.
B More than 1 year ago
This won't be a popular opinion, but one of the reasons that Game On Dude and Wise Dan, among other top horses, face such weak fields is that there is too much racing. They have so many options that the big boys don't have to face each other until it becomes necessary as in the Breeders Cup.
Big Jeff More than 1 year ago
You are correct. But they seem to be singaled out and berated for this fact. It's not the trainer, it's not the horse. The condition book and the entry box are open to all.But it's just so much easier for those filled with negative hate to regurgitate the same thing over and over without thought.
mark oleary More than 1 year ago
what? this freakin horse will gallop!
morton erskine More than 1 year ago
Getting long in the tooth. May not make the board at Del Mar Smith was smart to take Royal Delta. GOD due for a clunker !
Lawrence Macselwiney More than 1 year ago
I would love to try and beat him and I just might find that horse to take a shot with, but I can tell you this. He's not sitting on a clunker.
B More than 1 year ago
Royal Delta runs more clunkers than Game On Dude. Smith loves Dude, but has a commitment to Delta and I admire him for his faithfulness, though I sure wish his commitment was with Dude. I worry about the track and Smith being gone, but I do think it interesting that Rosario jumps off last year's winner for Game On Dude.
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
Mortay, your crazy to say that. Dude wins this for fun. Smith goes with Royal Delta because she probally has a better shot at the ladies Classic that Dude has in the Boys Classic..