04/17/2014 2:00PM

Game On Dude better equipped for Charles Town Classic repeat

Coady Photography
Game On Dude, exercising Thursday at Charles Town, will wear shoes with toe grips to gain better traction rather than the glue-on plastic shoes he wore in last year's Charles Town Classic.

Game On Dude came into last year’s Charles Town Classic riding a three-race winning streak, capped by a dominating 7 3/4-length victory in the Santa Anita Handicap in which he earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 117.

So, it was somewhat surprising when he had to work as hard as he did to win the Charles Town Classic by a half-length over Clubhouse Ride.

Afterward, trainer Bob Baffert noted that Game On Dude had run the Charles Town Classic in glue-on shoes that don’t have toe grabs, which provide for better traction. On Saturday, when Game On Dude runs in the Charles Town Classic for the third time – he was second in 2011 – he will have regular shoes as he attempts to become not only a repeat winner of this lucrative race but just the 15th Thoroughbred – and the first gelding – to surpass the $7 million mark in earnings.

[Charles Town Classic: Get PPs, watch Saturday's card live]

“I think he’s better now than he was this time last year for this race,” Baffert said. “He looks really good.”

Game On Dude certainly looked really good in winning the Santa Anita Handicap for a third time last month. That victory snapped a three-race losing streak that included a fifth-place finish in the San Antonio Handicap as the 1-5 favorite.

“I used that as a prep race, and I thought he was tighter than I had him,” Baffert said. “I knew we had him right for the Big Cap.”

A victory in the Charles Town Classic, run at 1 1/8 miles around three turns, would push Game On Dude’s career earnings to $7,163,893, putting him past Silver Charm on the all-time earnings list and ahead of John Henry ($6,591,860) among geldings.

Baffert didn’t want to talk about that, opting instead to focus on the race itself.

“It’s a big race; we take it very seriously,” he said. “We’re coming in there ready to roll.”

Mike Smith will ride Game On Dude, whose ownership group includes Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Torre, Bernie Schiappa, Mercedes Stable, and Lanni Family Trust.

Last year, Game On Dude had to battle with Percussion for the early lead. On Saturday, the other primary speed in the race looks to be Moreno, last year’s runner-up to Will Take Charge in both the Travers and Pennsylvania Derby.

Moreno was scratched from last weekend’s Oaklawn Handicap after being treated for a fever he contracted after shipping from California. Moreno has since gone to Keeneland for a workout and then shipped to West Virginia on Tuesday.

Eric Guillot, the trainer of Moreno, said he doesn’t believe his horse has to be on the lead, and he will leave race tactics to jockey Joel Rosario. This will be Moreno’s first start since finishing 10th in November’s Breeders’ Cup Classic.

“I don’t think [fitness] will be a big issue,” Guillot said. “He has a pretty good work tab. If anything, he might run big because he’s fresh.”

Long River, a son of Grade 1 winners A.P. Indy and Round Pond, had a three-race winning streak snapped when he was beaten by Godolphin Racing stablemate Romansh in the Grade 3 Discovery at Aqueduct after Long River put a head in front in midstretch.

Kiaran McLaughlin, who trains Long River, said jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. told him the horse “pulled himself up. It’s hard to know that. Maybe the other horse was very game coming back. We’re happy have to have Irad ride him, knowing you got to time it just right.”

A year ago, Clubhouse Ride finished second to Game On Dude in three consecutive races – the San Antonio, Santa Anita Handicap, and this race. Clubhouse Ride has taken a different path to the Charles Town Classic this year, owing to a foot issue that forced trainer Craig Lewis to start later than he had planned.

“We’ve been playing catch-up, but he’s pretty fit and ready to go,” Lewis said. “We think he’s a pretty good horse, always tries, and for that money, you got to take a whack at it.”

Local fans will be rooting for Lucy’s Bob Boy, who has run all but two of his races at Charles Town, where he is 17-3-0 from 21 starts. Last year, Lucy’s Bob Boy had a serious foot issue that prompted his connections to bypass the Classic and run instead in the Confucius Say Stakes, which he won easily.

This year, though, owner Michael Furr and trainer Sandra Dono are game to take a shot.

“This year his feet are better. We’re right here in our backyard. Where’s a better spot to take a shot?” Dono said.

Imperative, second in the San Antonio but seventh in the Big Cap, and Ruler of Love, second in last year’s West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer, complete the field.

The Classic will go as race 12 [10:30 p.m. Eastern] on a 14-race card that begins at 5 p.m. It will be the last leg of an all-stakes pick four with a guaranteed pool of $100,000.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
yep....ortiz like a rolex.....a chinese rolex
WWW More than 1 year ago
happy to have irad ortiz???....brain implant for kiaran
Jim Fields More than 1 year ago
He also has MH in Illinois on Saturday, can't be three places at once, and a huge barn full in California.
Cleon Silence More than 1 year ago
It sure is o k to have opinions and after all that is what each of you are espousing, just wish there were more facts included
Brodieville More than 1 year ago
DRF is putting the screws to regular readers. not only do we pay a lot of money for every single set of PPs we need, now we're required to pay for ARTICLES. I will not support this type of corporate larceny. Good bye to DRF, I can switch to Equibase PP's and will skip the articles. My protest duly noted. Goodbye! good luck with extorting the masses.
Randy Atkins More than 1 year ago
also go to BRISNET.com...free articles and their ultimate pp's are free if you download the day of the race and bet $2 to w p or s on any horse on the card
tim blake More than 1 year ago
if you were buying PPs here, you'd get all the articles free. do DRF's competitors pay people to read the DRF site? what a crappy job.
richasromney More than 1 year ago
It's a dying sport....does the form realize that? They should be standing on the street corner handing out news stories to anyone that will take them. Ludicrous and I will NEVER pay extra to read news of the day.
Geral John Pinault More than 1 year ago
THE DUDE will be 2-5...
Lenny Mamola More than 1 year ago
Game is MILES best here Period !!!!!!!!!!
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
On paper ,class,etc. But you and anyone who has played this game awhile knows,they all have their days.Sometimes your better off just watching the race unless you really smell an upset.Long River?
Gregory More than 1 year ago
I think DRF needs a new operations director. The plus sign next to the articles is ludicrous. Go to a membership only site at a reasonable price where everything is available excluding cards and I would bet DRF would gain in profit and reputation.
Barbara Bowen More than 1 year ago
DRF probably has the most bizarre pay wall strategy I have ever seen...and no desire to explain it, if they even understand it.
tim blake More than 1 year ago
I think you both need more free time on your hands to criticize things about which you are obsessed.
Gregory More than 1 year ago
Your right. Never enough free time to be a obsessive critic. Its called feedback drone.
Richard More than 1 year ago
Game On Dude may not be the one who wins the Charles Town Classic. He is probably the best horse in the race. The race however may not be a perfect matchup due to the fact that there are going to be four early horses in the race. In The Santa Anita H. he was the only early horse and it was an ideal matchup for him. In The San Antonio H. he and Blueskiesnrainbows were the early horses and they did not want to give up and burned themselves out. This could happen with Moreno who is a dominant early horse or with Ruler of Love or Lucy’s Bob Boy. Long River has ran well at Aqueduct the last three races and at Belmont the two before.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Even with all the BIG names in 'Town, I just gotta pull for Lucys' Bob Boy. Does Baffert show, or sit on his butt in Cali. Can't believe how he disrespects his own Horses and Owners.
Barbara Bowen More than 1 year ago
He travels less after his heart attack two years ago, and has a couple of Derby horses to train right now, but by no means should you let that stop you from taking pot shots. Someone has to comment here when an article is free;-)
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Good to see you're still on your job too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"glad to see you're still on your job too" and I'm glad to see you're still on your job who *North Carolina Hillbilly* Virgin Queen
Chuck Berger More than 1 year ago
The man has to respect his own welfare and that of his family. I'm very sure the Dude is in capable hands with an assistant trainer there along side him.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Like Paynter...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Baffert seems to make his schedule work for him. He continues attracting clients with serious coin to spend. They also seem to be relatively loyal. Wouldn't be my choice for a trainer but people and the press like him.
Biggar W More than 1 year ago
It is serious when you no the choice of Anonymous.
Cleon Silence More than 1 year ago
if it were not for the money involved how many of you would be appraising these situations and as if you are going to share in the wealth. I wish each of you the best in your endeavors. How many of you know a winner of horse race wagering but I will bet most of you know the loser's , I know I do.
Ceil Rock More than 1 year ago
Do Graham Motion or Bill Mott go to California? No, they send the assisant trainer.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Baffert NEVER walks down to catch one back... Both Motion and Mott do, every time.
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
I'm very proud of them!
Lenny Mamola More than 1 year ago
He's not worried about Game..He has the best people working for him he has the Derby and S/A and his Heart to worry about I think that's enough...He's a true horseman
Cleon Silence More than 1 year ago
some one has to set the standards, whether you agree or not and for that matter whether I agree or not.