06/26/2014 11:52AM

Game On Dude seeks Gold Cup score at new venue

Coady Photography
Game On Dude, winner of the Hollywood Gold Cup twice at the old Hollywood Park, will go for the win in the Gold Cup at its new Santa Anita Park home.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Dismiss his failures in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in recent years, and Game On Dude’s career achievements stand out as those of a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

The 7-year-old gelding has won 14 stakes in a 32-race career highlighted by three wins in the Santa Anita Handicap in 2011, 2013, and this year and two wins in the Hollywood Gold Cup in 2012-13.

Officially, the Hollywood Gold Cup is gone, lost when Hollywood Park closed last December. When Santa Anita launched a spring-summer meeting this year, it erased the word “Hollywood” from the title of leading stakes. On Saturday, Game On Dude will be favored to win the rechristened $500,000 Gold Cup at Santa Anita.

For a horse with such a lofty reputation, the task will not be easy.

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Game On Dude has drawn the rail in a field of seven, which could be reduced to six if Lideris is rerouted to Sunday’s San Juan Capistrano Handicap on turf. Game On Dude has won three of four career starts from the rail but could face early pressure Saturday from Fury Kapcori in post 2.

The presence of those two side-by-side could lead to a speed duel in the Gold Cup, run over 1 1/4 miles.

Game On Dude is best when allowed to dispute the pace, a tactic Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will not alter.

“The thing about Dude is we won’t change his style,” Baffert said. “He’ll be on the lead anyway.”

The Gold Cup is the eighth race on a 10-race program that includes three other stakes – the $300,000 Triple Bend Stakes for sprinters, the $200,000 Royal Heroine Stakes over a mile on turf for fillies and mares, and the $100,000 Senorita Stakes for 3-year-old fillies over a mile on turf.

The winner of the Gold Cup receives a fees-paid berth to the BC Classic here Nov. 1 as part of the BC Win and You’re In program.

Game On Dude is the finest older horse Baffert has trained, but losses have outnumbered wins in the last eight months.

Owned by Bernie Schiappa, Joe Torre, Debbie Lanni, and Mercedes Stable, Game On Dude was the 8-5 favorite in the BC Classic here last November but could only finish ninth, his third consecutive loss in that race.

[Gold Cup at Santa Anita: Get PPs, watch Saturday's card live]

Since then, Game On Dude has one win in four starts – the Santa Anita Handicap in March. Game On Dude was second in the $1.5 million Charles Town Classic in West Virginia on April 19 to Imperative, another runner in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita.

Despite the setbacks, Baffert insisted that Game On Dude remains on top of his game.

“He looks good, and he’s doing well,” Baffert said. “I don’t see any signs that he’s taken a step back. When he shows me he is tailing off, he won’t run.”

The Gold Cup may develop into a riders’ race. Mike Smith will ride Game On Dude for the 10th time in the gelding’s last 11 starts. He was aboard for two wins in the Santa Anita Handicap and the 2013 Gold Cup.

Gary Stevens rides Fury Kapcori for the first time. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, the 4-year-old colt won two stakes at Santa Anita this year but was second by a half-length to Gold Cup hopeful Clubhouse Ride in the Grade 2 Californian Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on May 31. Fury Kapcori was involved in a tough speed duel in that race and yielded the lead in the final furlong under jockey Corey Nakatani.

Stevens might have Fury Kapcori on the lead, which has been a successful tactic in two-turn races at Santa Anita of late.

“It seems like he’s coming into it perfect,” said Dan Ward, Hollendorfer’s assistant. “Speed is double dangerous.”

How those two Hall of Fame riders play the first half of the Gold Cup will determine whether stalkers such as Imperative or closers such as Clubhouse Ride or Majestic Harbor, who was third in the Californian, play a meaningful role in the stretch. The field also includes the South American import Salto Del Indio, a longshot.

If the pace is hot, Clubhouse Ride could win the biggest race of his career. Trainer Craig Lewis has studied the scenarios, focusing on Smith and Stevens.

“It’s tough to predict what they will do,” Lewis said. “One might let the other go, which could make for a comfortable lead.”

Clubhouse Ride was fourth in the 2013 Hollywood Gold Cup, but Lewis insisted that a better result is likely this year from the 6-year-old.

“He doesn’t have to be that far back,” Lewis said. “He is not a plodder type. I’d prefer to take him back and make a big run.”

Clubhouse Ride has finished behind Game On Dude in four stakes in previous meetings. The job of reversing that trend will not be easy Saturday.

mike More than 1 year ago
Edward Can't you cut Beholder a little slack since she's injured? I think she's a very good horse. Why don't you like her?
Edward Nelson More than 1 year ago
Yeah a little I guess. I just want to see her win somewhere other then California. Both of her breeders cups wins were on 2 of biggest speed bias days I've ever seen....she's obviously not going outside of Cali for the rest of the year so I doubt my mind will be changed about her. In my mind it's another situation of her being a decent horse but there isn't any other mare in Cali that decent to contend. I don't consider myself east coast biased, I think chrome is awesome and I also think hoppertunity is gonna turn out to be an awesome horse too. I just don't like 1 dimensional horse that need these speed tracks to win wire to wire races against soft company.
mike More than 1 year ago
Am hoping Beholder races next year. Her trainer as I'm sure you know trained The Tin Man. Visited imr many times in the past few years first at River Edge Farm,couple yrs ago moved to the owner daughters ranch,have visited there as well. Am in CA often. I'm not always right,sometimes say things I shouldn't. Have burned lots of bridges as a consequence. You seem to have alot of knowlege regarding racing,far more than myself. I only know a little. I'm a big fan of Chrome,was a huge fan of Zenyatta. As for Game On Dude,hate to say it, but the time could be at hand. Like him too much for him to get over his head at his age.
mike More than 1 year ago
Intended on saying- visited him
mike More than 1 year ago
Edward,as indicated told you I would admit I was wrong if Dude lost. Unlike you,I don't tuck my tail and scurry away and hide. He's seven,maybe time to retire him.
Edward Nelson More than 1 year ago
A man of your word, I like it. I guess we will argue on the next one. Good luck
mike More than 1 year ago
Ok,you said he wouldn't win today,you're right- I wasn't.
Edward Nelson More than 1 year ago
If it makes you feel better I bet clubhouse ride to win. I couldn't of picked that 6 horse if I had a crystal ball
mike More than 1 year ago
Tell you what, I posted couple days ago by the time a horse is seven it's difficult to know if sometimes one race is too much. Hate to say it, could be time now. Can see your logic on Clubhouse R, thought he was a serious contender.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Mike ? Where ya at ? Oh . I know. You are still waiting for dude to finish. Lol.
Edward Nelson More than 1 year ago
He said he would say he was wrong. Let's see if he's a man of his word. The dude is done. Time to retire. He's been overrated and it's starting to catch up to him. Beholder will be exposed next.
mike More than 1 year ago
I'm wrong today,Dude didn't have it. BTW you're arrogant!!
mike More than 1 year ago
Mark,you must be a New Yorker ,don't you love the minus 20 degree weather almost year round? lol
Edward Nelson More than 1 year ago
Where you at mike????
Mark More than 1 year ago
Overrated. Period.
mike More than 1 year ago
eye roll
Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Six Million Dollars worth.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Cupcake City for vast majority of earnings. BC 7th and 9th placings make my point loud and clear. Class dismissed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
That's bs
Mark More than 1 year ago
Like CC and Beholder.
Edward Nelson More than 1 year ago
Chrome isn't overrated.....but beholder certainly is. Not as much as dude but she is overrated a little. Another horse that can't win outside Cali with no bias. But atleast she tried, so I respect beholder more than dude.
mike More than 1 year ago
Are you going to watch the race on your parents tv?
mike More than 1 year ago
You're a foolish little man.
Mark More than 1 year ago
4th . As I said Overrated. Period. Lol. Little dude.
mike More than 1 year ago
Guess you wouldn't want any part of his lifetime earnings,right? lol
Imogene More than 1 year ago
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[removed] More than 1 year ago
This comment has been deleted
Thomas V. More than 1 year ago
I hope DRF sends you a bill for advertising. Maybe you will have to sell your new car to pay for the advertising.
Class_of_78 More than 1 year ago
Another Mike Smith stiff, like he has been doing all his career. I will pass the entire Santa Anita card and focus on UK racing all day. I have been playing exclusively the SoCal circuit and finally found a handicapping scheme to play the UK races with a positive ROI. Don't need to sit and wait for days to find a playable race in SoCal. Just today I was able to put wagers in 15 races at 7 different tracks in UK with a big profit. And the racing, wow, nothing but class, horses, people and beautiful, natural race courses carved out in the country side. Outstanding analysis and commentary, what you expect from the British all down to earth priceless tradition. In SoCal they have to resort to cheap gimmicks to get a competitive payoffs to compete with the rest of the US and the casinos. A losing game and one by one the tracks will close like Hollywood Park. Thank God for UK racing, I got my retirement package with great venues.
mike More than 1 year ago
Sorry I'm confused, is Game On Dude the "stiff" you're referring or yourself?
Vince Lentini More than 1 year ago
he is a littleman jealous of Mike Smith's success who probably bet on him and lost
mike More than 1 year ago
Exactly! Pretty sad!
Vince Lentini More than 1 year ago
sure you did
WILLIAM More than 1 year ago
"Wake up 78, time to go to work."
Geral John Pinault More than 1 year ago
The Dude won the Santa Anita Handicap in classic fashion! There are no other top horses here except for Imperative. So I'd be boxing the Exacta... - RAMMER
You Feel Lucky More than 1 year ago
Mr. Ed.......................Nelson You are like Napoleon at Waterloo, like the confederate army and like Pincay on Sham..............brother, you are just on the wrong side. Goggle it !
You Feel Lucky More than 1 year ago
I know.......Google
Edward Nelson More than 1 year ago
I'll be laughing at you my friend , when dude can't even beat this weak field.
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
finger flapper
mike More than 1 year ago
You're actually pretty sad.
Edward Nelson More than 1 year ago
Who's the idiot now, knucklehead. Im holding lesson next week....I'll teach you a few things
mike More than 1 year ago
Ok,Edward In was wrong. And I've been called much worse than a knucklehead by lots of former girlfriends lol.
mike More than 1 year ago
Intended to say I was wrong
Edward Nelson More than 1 year ago
I wasn't calling you a knucklehead I talk talking to the idiot that started this comment