11/23/2012 4:44PM

Hollywood Park notes: Smith will ride Game On Dude in Native Diver

Tom Keyser
Mike Smith will replace Rafael Bejarano (above) on Game On Dude in the Native Diver Handicap on Dec. 1.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith has gained the mount on Game On Dude for the $250,000 Native Diver Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park on Dec. 1, trainer Bob Baffert said Friday.

Smith will be the third jockey in four races for Game On Dude, the leading older male in California this year. Baffert made the decision in the weeks after Game On Dude finished a disappointing seventh as the 6-5 favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 3. The loss eliminated Game On Dude from consideration for Horse of the Year.

Baffert said he chose Smith hoping that Game On Dude can have a better start in the Native Diver, following trouble at the start of the BC Classic.

“The start is so important,” Baffert said. “He lost position in the first few jumps. Once he gets shuffled, he loses.”

Smith has never ridden Game On Dude, a 5-year-old gelding who races for a partnership and has won 9 of 21 starts and $2,994,658.

Chantal Sutherland had the mount from March 2011 until August of this year, a span that included wins by Game On Dude in the 2011 Santa Anita Handicap and a runner-up finish in that year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (to the Smith-ridden Drosselmeyer). Earlier this year, Sutherland rode Game On Dude to a win in the Hollywood Gold Cup and a second to Dullahan in the Pacific Classic in August.

After that race, Baffert chose Bejarano, who rode Game On Dude to a win in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita on Sept. 29 and was aboard for the loss in the BC Classic.

Last Tuesday, Smith rode Game On Dude in a five-furlong workout in 59.60 seconds at Santa Anita.

On Friday, Baffert emphasized that he plans to “spread around” the mounts of his stable in coming months.

Thursday, Baffert had to follow that plan when he swept the first four positions in a field of five in the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue Stakes for 2-year-olds over seven furlongs with Really Mr Greely (ridden by Julien Leparoux), Super Ninety Nine (Bejarano), Shakin It Up (Martin Garcia), and Z Big Apple (Joe Talamo).

Baffert said that Really Mr Greely, who won the Prevue Stakes by a half-length after leading throughout, will be considered for the $750,000 CashCall Futurity over 1 1/16 miles here Dec. 15.

Hollywood-Los Alamitos double

Hollywood Park and Los Alamitos will present a $2 daily double linking the last race at Hollywood Park with the first race at Los Alamitos, beginning this Sunday.

Called the “405 Double,” for the freeway accessible from both tracks, the bet will be offered only on Sundays through the end of the Hollywood Park fall meeting on Dec. 16.

This weekend, the bet starts with a maiden claimer for 2-year-old fillies over six furlongs at Hollywood Park at approximately 5 p.m. and ends with a $5,000 claimer over 4 1/2 furlongs at Los Alamitos at approximately 5:30 p.m.

The Los Alamitos race has a purse of $20,000. Los Alamitos is restricted by legislation to Thoroughbred races over 4 1/2 furlongs, with claiming prices of $5,000 or less.