Updated on 07/10/2012 1:07PM

Hollywood Park: Game On Dude outruns Baffert stablemate Richard's Kid in Hollywood Gold Cup

Benoit & Associates
Chantal Sutherland becomes the first female rider to win the Hollywood Gold Cup aboard heavy favorite Game On Dude.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Game On Dude was leading the field into early stretch in Saturday’s $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup at Betfair Hollywood Park when jockey Chantal Sutherland heard Rafael Bejarano closing in on Richard’s Kid.

Bejarano was shouting at Sutherland that he was going to catch her, which only made Sutherland more determined not to let a win in the Gold Cup get away.

“Rafael said, ‘Here I come, Chantal,’” Sutherland said. “I got a little nervous when Rafael said that.”

Sutherland gave Game On Dude a few reminders with her whip, and the veteran 5-year-old responded. He maintained a clear lead through the stretch to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Richard Kid.

Game On Dude ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:04.19 on a track that has produced slow times in recent weeks.

The victory gave Sutherland the distinction of being the first woman rider to win the Gold Cup. The result provided trainer Bob Baffert with a sweep of the exacta in the Grade 1 Gold Cup. The win gave Game On Dude a fees-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 3. Last year at Churchill Downs, Game On Dude led into the stretch of the BC Classic, but was caught in the final furlong by Drosselmeyer.

The threat from Richard’s Kid worked to Game On Dude’s benefit, Baffert said.

“He sort of needs the competition,” Baffert said. “It looked like Richard’s Kid would get him, but he dug in. That was a tough Gold Cup. Those are Grade 1 horses.”

Game On Dude ($2.80) was expected to win Saturday’s Gold Cup. A convincing winner of the Grade 2 Californian Stakes here on June 2, Game On Dude stalked pacesetter Spud Spivens for the first five furlongs of the Gold Cup and took the lead midway on the backstretch.

Carrying top weight of 124 pounds, Game On Dude slowly pulled away from 19-1 Spud Spivens on the turn to hold a commanding lead.

Richard’s Kid, the winner of the 2009 and 2010 Pacific Classic and 2010 Goodwood Stakes, was as far back as sixth in the field of seven, but made noticeable headway on the leader on the turn. Despite his hollering, Bejarano said he thought he was going to finish second.

“I knew I’d finish second, but I had to do something,” he said. “He showed me a big kick and he didn’t quit. The winner and my horse were the only two horses running at the end. They were much the best.”

Richard’s Kid won the minor Prove It Stakes here in June. He raced in Dubai in 2011 and earlier this year, losing five starts.

Kettle Corn, second to Game On Dude in the Californian, closed from fifth to finish third, 7 3/4 lengths behind the winner. Spud Spivens finished fourth, followed by the filly Love Theway Youare, Anthony’s Cross, and Thirtyfirststreet.

The win gave Game On Dude his third stakes win of 2012. He won the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita in February before a dull 12th in the Dubai World Cup in March.

The result was largely what Baffert, and the public expected. Richard’s Kid was the 5-2 second choice. The $1 exacta returned just $2.70.

 “We had to run one-two,” Baffert said.

Game On Dude, a gelding by Awesome Again, races for Bernie Schiappa, Mercedes Stable, the Lanni Family Trust, and Joe Torre. Game On Dude has won 8 of 18 starts and $2,644,658.

Schiappa said the victory left him with a sense of relief.

“I was more nervous about that race than any of them,” he said.

Owning a share in the top older horse in California, and arguably the nation, can do that to a person.