Updated on 09/12/2012 5:04PM

Game On Dude to have Bejarano as rider rather than Sutherland

Benoit & Associates
Game on Dude (right) gets beaten by Dullahan in the Pacific Classic.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Rafael Bejarano will ride the multiple graded stakes winner Game On Dude in his next start, replacing regular rider Chantal Sutherland, trainer Bob Baffert confirmed on Wednesday.

Sutherland has ridden Game On Dude in his last nine races, including wins in the Hollywood Gold Cup, Goodwood, Californian, and San Antonio. In his most recent start, Game On Dude finished second, beaten a half-length, in the Pacific Classic on Aug. 26 at Del Mar.

Baffert said at the Keeneland September yearling sale that “it was a very difficult decision” to replace Sutherland, whose record on Game On Dude was 10-5-3-0. He would not comment further.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Baffert said.

In a tweet, Sutherland said: “I am sad I have lost the opportunity to ride the ‘Dude.’ I am sure he will continue to be the champion I know him to be.”

The decision to name Bejarano on Game On Dude was first reported by the Blood-Horse.

Bejarano, who is currently ranked third nationally on the earnings list and fifth nationally on the wins list, has been Baffert's number-one rider for most of the year. Bejarano had previously ridden Game On Dude in an allowance win at Santa Anita on Jan. 27, 2011.

In the colt's next start, the Santa Anita Handicap, Sutherland was up, and she guided Game On Dude to a nose win. David Flores and Martin Garcia were the colt's next riders, but after Garcia was up for a third-place finish in the Lone Star Park Handicap, Sutherland regained the mount.

A leader in the older male division, Game On Dude is being pointed to the Breeders' Cup Classic, which this year will be held at Santa Anita. He may make a start in the Awesome Again Stakes before the Classic. He is owned by a partnership of Diamond Pride, the Lanni Family Trust, Mercedes Stable, and Bernie Schiappa.

Game On Dude's career record is 19-8-5-1, with six stakes wins. He has career earnings of $2,844,658, and is ranked first among all older horses to have one or more starts in North America by DRF's Mike Watchmaker.

HandicapperErni More than 1 year ago
That's mean what Baffert. Plus GOD holds advantage at SA. Chantal Sutherland could've ridden it any other rider too. I can understand why they don't want her. I've head people say in big races she gets nervous. Also, I must say she's not a strong rider when it comes to photo finishes. I guess if there is gonna be a photo finish then I would want Rafael if they decide to go with him!! her and game on dude get along very well. I hate to say it but I'd want Rafael bejarano over Chantal.
Leonard Martinez More than 1 year ago
No question she was riding a fine line on the Dude and when she dropped one of the reins in the P.C. After moving too soon on a suicide pace it was time for a change before the Classic gets here, she lost her swagger on the Dude and was riding him with not much confidence like in the past. Good luck Chantel you did give the Dude some good rides but it time for a change, so sorry, lets hope you grow more from this experience.
Josh More than 1 year ago
Typical Bob Baffert, about as loyal as a cat ! As far as riders go it is a great coup for Baffert to have Bejarano commit to handle the Dude in the Breeders Cup Classic but on the other hand, Chantal did little wrong to warrant the dumping. She is no Julie Krone or Rosie Napravnik but given the horse she can deliver when called upon.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
One more thought to my comment below...when To Honor and Serve and Fort Larned press Dude Into submission for Ron The Greek to rally and win who is Bob or owners going to blame then? Chantal has ridden this horse to victory. Is Bejarano or his agent running Baffert's barn these days? Classless decision.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
No doubt - Consider the source.
Gunner More than 1 year ago
Going into the Hollywood Gold Cup the felling was kinda, "she's on the horse until she loses on him". Well, she lost on him. And you can debate whether she gave the "Dude" a great ride (debatable), or if Dullahan is just a Synthetic Freak (he is). But when people in a position of power are disappointed - well - changes are made. A change has been made. A reality that most people deal with everyday and off camera. Turn the page.
morton erskine More than 1 year ago
Back to Assiniboia Downs and the $3000 claimers!
Mike Rutledge More than 1 year ago
Owners choice no doubt.
Dave Schuler More than 1 year ago
A Trend Here-Espinosa--Off--M.Garcia --Off--Chantel Off---The Beat Goes On-LOLUCK-DS
freecharm More than 1 year ago
Yes, the connections want to win the BC Classic - that's why they got a stronger, savvier rider; nuff said,no?
Geral John Pinault More than 1 year ago
It was bound to happen. The Breeders Cup Classic is at Santa Anita and the owners of The Dude want to win it. Bejarano is a superstar rider, especially at SA!!!
ALEJANDRO ANZA More than 1 year ago
Bejarano is a superstar because baffert horses, period.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
Get the fact straight. Bejarano was already top rider in California for years before he became Baffert's go-to guy this year.