08/26/2013 2:59PM

Del Mar: Pacific Classic score puts Game On Dude in familiar position

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Benoit & Associates
Game On Dude and Martin Garcia romp in the Pacific Classic on Sunday. He will run in the Breeders' Cup Classic next.

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DEL MAR, Calif. – With six straight wins, five this year, including three in Grade 1 company, Game On Dude has put himself in position to be named Horse of the Year at year’s end, a feat he could have pulled off in both 2011 and 2012 had he won the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

He failed those two times, but now will get a third chance to end a campaign the way he has started it. A victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic would mirror his ascension in the Pacific Classic.

Game On Dude finally broke through the Pacific Classic wall Sunday at Del Mar, winning that race for the first time in his third try. He came into the Pacific Classic off a seven-week layoff, and because he has done so well with time between starts, his trainer, Bob Baffert, said Monday that Game On Dude would make his next start in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita, bypassing a prep in the Awesome Again – a race he won last year – at Santa Anita on Sept. 28.

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

“That’s the plan,” Baffert said Monday morning.

Game On Dude received a Beyer Speed Figure of 109 for his 8 1/2-length romp, his 15th victory in 27 starts.

“He made a statement yesterday,” Baffert said.

Game On Dude trained strongly coming into the race, seeming to thrive with more time between starts. Game On Dude began the year with a runaway win in the Feb. 3 San Antonio Stakes, his first start in two months, and when he won the Hollywood Gold Cup on July 6, he had been off again for more than two months. He will now have more than two months off coming into the BC Classic, for which Game On Dude earned a fees-paid berth Sunday through the Breeders’ Cup’s Win and You’re In program.

Game On Dude, who started in post 10, just outside Delegation, took the lead shortly after the start of the Pacific Classic, with jockey Martin Garcia aggressively diving to the rail when jockey Luis Contreras oddly elected to maintain a straight path on Delegation for the first quarter-mile, which kept Delegation in the middle of the track.

“Dude, we knew he’d run good, but we didn’t know what would happen the first 100 yards,” Baffert said. “That was very bizarre. We capitalized. Martin made the right move. He went down there.”

Garcia regularly works Game On Dude. He picked up the mount for the Pacific Classic because Joel Rosario, originally named on the horse, broke his left foot at Saratoga on Friday. Rosario was to replace Mike Smith, who had ridden Game On Dude in his five previous races, but opted to be at Saratoga on Sunday to ride Royal Delta in the Personal Ensign, which she won.

“Martin has learned from watching Mike on how to get this horse to slow down and relax in his races,” Baffert said. “Mike always lets him catch his breath before the quarter pole. He said you can feel Dude take a deep breath. Martin did the same thing.”

John Sadler, whose runners Kettle Corn and You Know I Know finished second and third, said he was “very, very happy” with the way his horses performed in the Pacific Classic.

“We were kind of promised some pace, but it didn’t happen,” Sadler said. “When a really good horse like that gets his own pace, he’s tough to beat.”

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Both Kettle Corn and You Know I Know have done well on synthetic surfaces, but with Game On Dude passing the Awesome Again, that dirt race will loom a tempting target for many who futilely chased him Sunday.

Dullahan, who won the Pacific Classic in 2012 but was eighth Sunday, “came out of the race good,” according to his trainer, Dale Romans, who said Dullahan would return to Churchill Downs this week.

“He just didn’t seem to fire,” Romans said.

Forego137 More than 1 year ago
It's good to see that the East Coast sends out their runners to get trounched by the Dude, the B.C.Classic will be run on the West Coast and I just don't understand why the best East Coast runners don't come West to run against the Dude to prep for the Classic. Maybe because they know the Dude is much improved from last year and are just ducking him until they have to meet in the B.C.Classic
EddySealy More than 1 year ago
Wise hasn't beaten anyone either...he is running solely on grass and the best horses in America doesn't run on grass
flash gordon More than 1 year ago
He should come east and take on the big boys and show whats he made of
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
It's actually a good thing that Game On Dude gets no respect. I'm pretty sure it makes (and will make) success taste sweeter when the "mountain" is climbed. The best sports films have that element. Everyone pooh pooh, but the protagonists keeps his/her nose to the grind.. training and improving until one day... it becomes undeniable when that shining moment arrives. :-))
Perl More than 1 year ago
You sound like Jim Nantz.
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
Hey, I'll take that with two hands...I'm flattered. Nantz is a legend! Thanks! :-))
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
No respect? If he goes off favorite in the BC Classic, it will be two years that he has been heavily favored in all his races.
Big Bob More than 1 year ago
What will it taste like if he finishes 7th beaten 15 lengths on his "home track"?
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
LOLOL Bob my dear Friend!!! $5.6 million dollars worth of taste. Please tell me you're a capitalist??? Please???
zerosumzen More than 1 year ago
At this point I'd say it's mostly east coasters who are still doubting Game On Dude. Mike Smith helped this horse turn the corner, and he's now probably the best horse in the country. Yes, there is still a question what happens if he's not first into the turn in the BC Classic, but I actually hope that happens. Game On Dude rating in the Classic and winning is the only scenario that will satisfy the doubters.
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
I think you're right pal! metaphorically speaking, the doubters want their classic burger. A nice slab of meat between two pieces of bread . LOL None of that open face half bread new age burger stuff!
Blaine MacMillan More than 1 year ago
Any kind of early pressure for Game On Dude in the BC Classic and he's toast.
flash gordon More than 1 year ago
Can he run on dirt?or just a synthetic freak
Ann More than 1 year ago
Not been paying attention, have we? He has won something 5 of 6 at Santa Anita in its dirt re-incarnation.
You Feel Lucky More than 1 year ago
flash clueless
Perl More than 1 year ago
Well it turns out the Pacific Classic was timed poorly and Game on Dude ran this race in 1:59 and change. I have to retract some criticism of the field quality because that's some running any way you slice it. That said I probably will still go against him in the Classic, especially if he is shelved between now and then.
Big Bob More than 1 year ago
Where did you get this info?
Perl More than 1 year ago
Hand time it and consider the run-up. Cheers.
Sam B More than 1 year ago
The Dude will skip is papa's named stakes race which he won last year to run in the BC Classic.. Is that not like 9 weeks from now. That too much of a lay-off? I'm no horse trainer but that seems like allot of time.. I mean look what happened to one of this years top 3 year old in Orb after a long lay-off between the Belmont and the Travers.. Orb had his spirit broken on the stretch .. I'm go for you G.O.D! Stay healthy!
B More than 1 year ago
I worry about such a long lay off as well and I agree it may have worked against Orb and this lay off is even longer, but Baffert's gotta know what's best for his horse better than I. I hope! But it's horse racing and anything can happen and a lot of a trainer's decisions are guess work as the horse can't talk. Personally, I would run him once before the Classic as he's only had 5 races in 8 months and will end the year with only 6 starts in 12 months, but that's seems to be the way it's done nowadays. Wise Dan won HOY off a similar limited schedule. Shame. I am old enough to appreciate the days of larger fields and the good ones racing more often. And many times, even against each other! Miss those days.
Ann More than 1 year ago
Wise Dan was running in mile races, not in 10f races. 2 months off and no prep is not a good idea in my mind, either. Pletcher has tried it a few times and had no luck with it. But then, he usually had a 9f horse who didn't want 10f anyway.
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
Quick note: Awesome Again ran 6 times the year he won the Breeder's cup Classic.
Jim Fields More than 1 year ago
How many G1's do you have to win against all comers to get some respect??? GOD will run in the BC Classic and there will be 13 other horses trying to take him out, in many different ways, just as they did in the Pacific Classic. He may not beat all of them, but how good would Mike Tyson look trying to beat several major fighters at one time. There will be several horses in the race just to challenge his speed and than there will be some stalkers ready to pounce, and than the late closers will come running at him. Didn't that just happen in the PC. and talk about quality, most were graded stakes winners and or Classic winners. You talk about heart!!!! He only gets beat after the bullseye on him has been shot at many times in each race. The only way he could lose HOY is if he gets an easy lead and than Mike comes along on his own and catches him, and even than it would be a travesty.
John More than 1 year ago
Never been a big Baffert fan, its like Shoemaker, some people you just cant win on, its called the "old kybosh "..........but he certinly gets them ready, like him or not ! Fed Biz was impressive, and lets not forget Goldencents, he tried to wire that field at 7fur, only to get run down at the wire. I think he will be double tough in the BC sprint .