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.

Jock More than 1 year ago
Think that either Tyler baze or Rosie N would be much better out of the gate than Mike Smith? Even Bejarano who you took off is much better?Maybe you should ride him yourself if you think Mike is the one.I always liked Mike even when he started in NY but he isn't the best leaving the gate.Eddie Prado is much better as well.
Jade Sword More than 1 year ago
I don't think Mike is 'the one' for Game On Dude. The start was unlucky in the Classic, but that wasn't the point. Rafael should have asked more of the horse to get early positioning, which decided every two turn race on the dirt this BC. (aside fro the fact that Game On Dude needs to be upfront). Nobody came back from more than a length and a half behind at the quarter mile to win a race. Instead, he checked the horse. Mike Smith had a great Breeder's Cup because he understood this. Fwiw, the bias during the BC surprised Baffert, so it would have surprised Bejarano as well. By the time of the Classic it was clear as crystal to Baffert, but not to his rider.
Jade Sword More than 1 year ago
Nobody during this Santa Anita Breeders Cup in two-turn races on the dirt came back from more than 1 1/2 length behind at the quarter mile. It was all about the start, and this was certainly discussed with Bejarano. But instead of asking more of Dude to get the necessary early positioning, after an unfortunate start, Rafael checked the horse. In a five million dollar race... If the jockey had studied the changed bias that was in effect during the BC, rather than rely on a home track advantage that earned him zero BC wins, he would have been more aggressive early on.
Susan Huart More than 1 year ago
Good luck, Mike! You have nothing to prove, IMO!
Jack More than 1 year ago
Why in the "HELL" doesn't Bobby Bodie Baffert, ride his OWN Damn Horses? and GET off the BACKS of the Jocks that take his ABUSE. Arrogant Moron,Thinks Mike Smith is a better gate rider than Bejarano, that's a real joke. If you want the Horse out of the Gate Bobby then Hire Tyler Baze or Edward Maldonado the "BEST" in the WEST....
Susan Huart More than 1 year ago
I'm surprised Mike came back on board after the crap he took from the TC seconds. I guess the recent popularity from BC wins got him an offer he couldn't refuse. Good luck, Mike, with Bob and The Dude!
Susan Huart More than 1 year ago
Mark. More than 1 year ago
bob baffert is the best that ever was, the best now and the best that will ever be. end story.
James More than 1 year ago
You must be a very young man for a Comment like that!!!
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
Marky, you type pretty well for a nine year old girl.
Jack More than 1 year ago
Better then Bobby Frankel? You MUST be a DRUNK...............
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
maybe you misunderstood, only a nine year old girl could make such a stupid comment. Then again maybe you did understand.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
Baffert still complaining about the Breeders cup start? He didn't get a bad start, he was outrun very early, had a great postion only a few lengths off, clear down the backstretch, no excuses. The result was predictable, and if pushed hard early he would have finished up the track even worse than he did. So now he'll catch a soft southern CA field, most likely win as favorite, and Smith will be the reason? Ridiculous. So now it's win or get off.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Look what happened to Shack in the BC Dirt Mile. He gets a slow start, is out of position early(out of position for him), tries to make an early and wide move at the leaders on the far turn, then flattens out in the stretch to run off the board. Shack comes back in the Clark, pops out of the gate first, establishes the position he likes, and wins the race. Game on Dude had a bad start in the Classic. And whereas his jockey, Bejarano, seemed caught off guard by this, Brian Hernandez was clearly anticipating it, and quickly steered Fort Larned to the outside, putting the pinch on Game on Dude. Passive at the start, Bejarano continued to ride passively through the stretch the first time. Once Hernandez veered out, Bejarano could have either bulled his way between horses to the outside of Fort Larned or dove to the inside of Fort Larned and engaged him on the lead. Instead, Bejarano did neither, as he casually allowed Game on Dude to try and gather his feet. Passive! By the time it dawned on Bejarano just what was unfolding, Alpha had moved up inside of Fort Larned and there was a wall of horses to Fort Larned's outside. What Game on Dude needed was a rider who would have aggressively pushed the horse into the race and into position. Whether Game on Dude would have been good enough to win with a more aggressive ride is another question. Both Fort Larned and Mucho Macho Man ran big races, and Game on Dude would have needed to have run a career best to compete with them. But I do know that Game on Dude had no chance with that poor break and the passive ride from Bejarano. Bejarano asked Game on Dude to do something he was completely unfamiliar with, close wide and from 6th, and make up 5 lengths against the best field he had ever faced over a track playing to inside speed.
Andy More than 1 year ago
Game On Dude has been a bit of a hanger at a mile and quarter distances his whole career despite his record at the distance (7-2-3-0) and the competition he's ran against, especially this year hasn't been stellar to say the least. I suspect no matter what, he would've hung that last 1/16th no matter what. He only faced this caliber horses few times in his career while Fort Larned and Mucho MM ran against the rest of the best in the East. I suspect Game On Dude would've still hung that last 1/16th no matter if he had the lead.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
It's absolutely very possible Game on Dude backs up anyways. It's very possible Fort Larned was simply the much better horse on the day. Like I wrote, Fort Larned ran better in the Classic than Game on Dude had ever run. But, Game on Dude definitely had no shot given that start and the way Bejarano responded to it. Hopefully, they'll bring Fort Larned or Mucho Macho Man back for the Big Cap and we get to see those two and Game on Dude slug it out up front.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
I watched that replay several times. Never pinched or shut off, not a bad start, never wide enough to even talk about. He was soundly beaten by a better group of horses, simply outrun. Load them up again, let the jock push him to the lead, and he finishes even worse. Like I said, he'll get his chance against a weak southern CA group, take the early lead and most likely win at a short price. Has nothing to do with his loss in the Cup.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
You just continue to ignore the fact that Game on Dude has run solid races outside California. He's a freakin BC Classic runner-up. Tell me that isn't true.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
Of course it's true he lost the BC Classic outside of CA, running second in 2011. In fact, other than breaking his maiden at GP, he won one race outside CA in the grade 3 Lone Star Derby in 2010. He then lost at Gulfstream, Churchill Downs, Belmont, Charlestown, Lone Star, and Meydan. You want to make a case for him outside southern CA? He won one grade 3 race at Lone Star 2 1/2 years ago. Are you serious?
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Yes, Game on Dude wasn't pinched at the start. He just broke slow. And he's done that a number of times. In Dubai, it ruined his chances. In other races he was facing fields both smaller and less talented, so he was able to overcome it. The key is that Bejarano had to be aware of Game on Dude's history, and should have been expecting a possible slow start. Look how fast Hernandez responded to Game on Dude's break; he moved Fort Larned right over into the path Game on Dude would have had, and forced Bejerano to make a tough decision. Bejarano could have dove to the inside, or pushed his way outside to remain on Fort Larned's flank. He chose neither, and compounded Game on Dude's tardy start. A horse doesn't have to go to it's knees or snout for it to be a bad start. Game on Dude just sort of idled out of the gate, Bejarano chose not to force the issue, and the horse found himself back in 6th and 5 lengths off the pace. And he was wide. And he most certainly was wide enough for it to have a negative impact. Again, look at Shack's trip. Groupie Doll wasn't particularly wide, but she was applauded for having to be on the outside because that wasn't the spot to be. The fact Groupie Doll was even in the 4 path was seen by many as a significant obstacle given the track profile.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
I think your point of view on the subject is blinded by your bet on the biggest underlay of Breeders Cup weekend. All your points are heavily exaggerrated, overused, and redundant. He got his hat handed to him by a better group of horses and there was nothing any jock could have done about it.
John Flynn More than 1 year ago
Has This Horse Had It??? Now An Aging Jockey!!! What Next???
Bridget Lind More than 1 year ago
That jockey has more experience and is still winning!
laura ban More than 1 year ago
Good luck mike, you're going to need it! I really hope he wins with Game On Dude!
Jim Fields More than 1 year ago
bb is bb, he can afford to change riders as he pleases, but if he is worried about the start, why doesn't he go to tyler baze , if tyler is truley over his addiction and his head is straight, he is the best in atleast the west
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just making yourself look worse and worse, Roberto. When you take responsiblity for your horses not running up to par, only then will you gain the respect back from the fans. Not right what you've done to RB and Chantal, lately, and others in the past ie. Gomez, Garcia, Espinoza, even Smith. Its goingt to be hilarious to see the same horses off the board, again.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Baffert most definitely deserves blame for his horses not firing their best in the BC. But Bejarano did author a terrible ride on Game on Dude in the Classic and his ride for Baffert in the BC Juvenile wasn't much better. I live in SoCal and attend the races regularly, and Bejarano does have a tendency to to shy away from confrontations on the lead, and ride passively. His ride on Rail Trip in the 2010 Hollywood Gold Cup was straight out of the text book of bad rides. Overall, Bejarano is a very good jockey. But his biggest flaw is his hesitancy to be aggressive with speed horses. And since so many of Baffert's horses are speed horses, it's not a shock that there is a strain in their relationship.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
Smith will be his 7th jockey. Yea, it must be the jock.