Updated on 09/12/2012 5:04PM

Game On Dude to have Bejarano as rider rather than Sutherland

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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.