06/01/2013 7:42PM

Hollywood Park: Clubhouse Ride gets elusive graded win in Californian Stakes

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Benoit & Associates
Clubhouse Ride, with Garrett Gomez up, wins the Grade 2 Californian Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Clubhouse Ride, second to top handicap horse Game On Dude in three major stakes in California and West Virginia earlier this year, won the first graded stakes of his career in his 28th start in Saturday’s $150,500 Californian Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park.

The 5-year-old veteran proved to be an eager horse in the last half of the Grade 2 Californian, sustaining a half-mile run.
Jockey Garrett Gomez had Clubhouse Ride in third on the backstretch, in pursuit of Batti Man and Blueskiesnrainbows, who disputed the pace through fractions of 24.43 and 48.08 seconds. Clubhouse Ride reached contention quicker than Gomez had anticipated. With a three-wide move on the turn, Clubhouse Ride was in front, allowing Gomez to use racing tactics to make the contest more difficult for closers Oilisblackgold and Liaison.

With Clubhouse Ride continuing to race three wide, Oilisblackgold and Liaison were forced to rally farther to the outside.

“I hung them all out there to dry,” Gomez said.

Turning into the stretch, Batti Man and Blueskiesnrainbows faded from contention, allowing Gomez to move inside and save ground.

“I ducked to the rail and cut the corner on them,” he said of his rivals.

Clubhouse Ride ($8) led through the stretch and won by 2 1/4 lengths, finishing 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.02.

“He kept hitting gears, and I thought, we’ll be all right,” Gomez said.

Liaison, the even-money favorite who won the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap here May 4, finished second, 2 1/4 lengths in front of Oilisblackgold.

Kettle Corn finished fourth, followed by Batti Man, Holladay Road, and Blueskiesnrainbows in the field of seven.

Clubhouse Ride was second to Game On Dude earlier this year at Santa Anita in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes in February and the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap in March. Game On Dude beat Clubhouse Ride by a half-length in the Charles Town Classic in West Virginia on April 20, the first time that Gomez rode the 5-year-old.

Clubhouse Ride races for Six-S Racing Stable and Nikolas Petralia. Trained by Craig Lewis, Clubhouse Ride, who is by Candy Ride, has won 4 of 28 starts and $959,620.

A rematch with Game On Dude is possible next month. Both horses are candidates for the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup here July 6.