12/02/2012 4:40PM

Hollywood Park: San Antonio first up for Game On Dude in 2013

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Trainer Bob Baffert says that aside from skipping a trip to Dubai, Game On Dude's schedule for 2013 will closely resemble the pattern he followed this year.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Game On Dude is likely to start his 2013 campaign in the same race that launched his 2012 season – the $200,000 San Antonio Stakes over 1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita on Feb. 3.

Saturday, Game On Dude made his final start of 2012, winning his fifth stakes of the year in the $242,500 Native Diver Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park. Ridden by Mike Smith, Game On Dude fought for the early lead with the 3-year-old Nonios, took the lead on the first turn, and won by 1 1/4 lengths over Nonios in a field of five.

Sunday, trainer Bob Baffert said Game On Dude will have a California-based campaign in 2013 geared toward the major races for older horses. The goals would include the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 2, the Californian Stakes and Hollywood Gold Cup at Hollywood Park in the summer, the Pacific Classic at Del Mar, and the Awesome Again Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic at the Santa Anita fall meeting.

After his win in the San Antonio, Game On Dude won the Californian, Hollywood Gold Cup, and Awesome Again Stakes this year, but was second in the Pacific Classic and seventh as the 6-5 favorite in the BC Classic. He made one trip outside of California, finishing 12th in the Dubai World Cup in the Middle East. That race is not on the 2013 schedule, Baffert said.

“We’ll keep him happy and hope that he can duplicate what he did outside of Dubai,” Baffert said. “We’ll run him where we think he’s competitive. Hopefully, we can have a good year with him.”

Owned by the partnership of Bernie Schiappa, Mercedes Stable, Lanni Family Trust, and Joe Torre, Game On Dude did not start in the 2012 Santa Anita Handicap, going from the San Antonio in early February to the Dubai World Cup in late March. Game On Dude won the Santa Anita Handicap in 2011.

The win in Saturday’s Native Diver gives Game On Dude a career record of 10 wins in 22 starts and earnings of $3,144,658. He won 5 of 8 starts and $1,010,000 in 2012, but lost his chance for a year-end title with the loss in the BC Classic.

Nonios will not face Game On Dude in his next few starts.

Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Nonios will make his next start in the $150,000 San Fernando Stakes for 4-year-olds over 1 1/16 miles on Jan.

12, according to assistant trainer Dan Ward. The $200,000 Strub Stakes for 4-year-olds over 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 2 is another goal before the Big Cap.

Nonios was within a head of Game On Dude in the stretch on Saturday, but could not keep pace late. He finished 4 1/4 lengths in front of third-place finisher Kettle Corn.

“He was aggressive and he ran his heart out,” Ward said.

Richard’s Kid, second to Game On Dude in the Hollywood Gold Cup, finished fourth on Saturday, 16 lengths behind Game On Dude. Trainer Doug O’Neill said on Sunday that he started Richard’s Kid too soon following a fifth-place finish in the BC Classic.

“I think he regressed from the Breeders’ Cup,” O’Neill said. “I think he bounced.”

O’Neill said the San Antonio could be Richard’s Kid’s next start.

“We’ve got plenty of time,” he said.