Updated on 08/28/2013 8:29AM

Pacific Classic: Game On Dude wins sixth straight, scores by record 8 1/2 lengths

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Benoit & Associates
Game On Dude, ridden by Martin Garcia, wins the Grade 1 Pacific Classic by a stakes-record 8 1/2 lengths Sunday at Del Mar.

DEL MAR, Calif. – The track was considered his Kryptonite, he needed a last-second replacement rider for a replacement rider, and 11 others were signed up to get him, some seemingly with the speed to make it a challenge. But there was one thing Game On Dude had that the others in the Pacific Classic did not: He was the best horse – by far.

In an awesome display of his raw talent, Game On Dude ran his rivals into the ground Sunday at Del Mar with an 8 1/2-length romp under Martin Garcia that gave him an in-year sweep of Southern California’s major races for older horses, the Santa Anita Handicap, the Hollywood Gold Cup, and the Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic.

Twice previously, Game On Dude had come up short on Polytrack at Del Mar – he was fourth in 2011 in the Pacific Classic and second last year – but he had trained better this year than in the past two summers over a surface that is tighter than in years past. It added up to a record-setting win in the Pacific Classic. In the 22 prior runnings, the largest margin of victory was 5 1/2 lengths, set by Skimming in 2001.

“This was a very emotional win,” said Bob Baffert, who trains Game On Dude for the partnership of Bernie Schiappa, Joe Torre, Debbie Lanni, and Ernie Moody. “Getting beat last year was a tough loss.

“This,” Baffert said moments later, “was a great feeling, the way he did it.”

Game On Dude ($5.40) started from post 10 in the field of 12. When the field first came away from the gate, Delegation, starting just to the inside of Game On Dude, maintained a straight line instead of angling over, jockey Luis Contreras keeping him in the middle of the track.

Garcia immediately took the opportunity to dive to the rail with Game On Dude, and though Delegation eventually ended up on his flank by the first turn, they were going at a pace that was not going to compromise Game On Dude.

Game On Dude clicked off splits of 24.19 seconds, 47.96, and 1:12.61 for the first six furlongs, started to inch away from the field on the far turn with a 24-second fourth quarter for a mile split of 1:36.61, then poured it on down the lane to complete 1 1/4 miles in 2:00.69.

“I told Martin, ‘You have the fastest horse. Don’t be afraid to be bold,’ ” Baffert said. “I told Martin I didn’t want anyone running him down.”

In the eventual battle for second, Kettle Corn – trained by John Sadler – nosed out stablemate You Know I Know, with Richard’s Kid another nose back in fourth. Holding Glory was fifth and was followed by Delegation, Byrama, Dullahan, Jeranimo, Endorsement, Farraaj, and Blueskiesnrainbows.

The win was the 15th in 27 starts for Game On Dude, 6, a gelding by Awesome Again who has earned $5.6 million. He has won six straight races, including all five of his starts this year. Mike Smith had ridden Game On Dude to five straight wins, but he chose to be at Saratoga on Sunday to ride Royal Delta in the Personal Ensign, which she won.

Joel Rosario originally was named as the replacement for Smith, but he broke a bone in his left foot Friday at Saratoga and is out for six weeks. On Saturday morning, Baffert scratched his other Pacific Classic entrant, Liaison, whom Garcia was named to ride at entry time, thus freeing Garcia to ride Game On Dude.

Both Garcia and Smith share the same agent, Brad Pegram. And Garcia is very familiar with Game On Dude, having worked him regularly over the past few years.

“He finally got paid to work this horse,” Baffert said.

The Pacific Classic offers a fees-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Classic, which, like the Pacific Classic, has heretofore been a hill too big to climb for Game On Dude. He was second in 2011, then an uncharacteristically poor seventh last year. When he runs in the race Nov. 2, it is likely that Horse of the Year honors will hang in the balance.

Joseph More than 1 year ago
Wow the last horse to ever sweep the three big Classic races in California. This will never happen again when Hollywood park closes and with it the Hollywood Gold Cup.
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
West Coast has the Main Attraction , Game on Dude. What a nice horse.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Hey Big Jeff, Just back home from Saratoga. (Tue) Here's to Game on Dude... Looks like HOY... Now, how do I get that beer to you?
Big Jeff More than 1 year ago
How does Sirona's at SA in October sound? Saratoga?.... Now it might be two beers.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Meet me at Saratoga and you gotcher two beers even at their prices. OR I'll be at Keeneland for Alcibiades weekend... I have a feeling Motts' two two year old will be there too. He might double the baby race and the Spinster.
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
I'm going to have to pay close attention to Cross Traffic. I didn't realize he was in the monster category.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
If cross traffic wins classic I will find a new vice. Lol. I probably just hind myself
Lawrence Macselwiney More than 1 year ago
Really. On a speed favoring track such as Santa Anita and he likes dirt. Damn. He has a big chance. I don't think he wins this weekend, but BC at SA for sure he has a shot.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Do you believe he is as good as game on dude on a speed favoring track that he has lost only once. Crosstraffic has only been out of state and that was a maiden at gulfstream. He is going out if state this year next race probably gold cup kelso after Woodward. He probably be the first horse to win breeders cup that never ran in a stakes outside his home state. I need to look this up. Where is rich perloff when u need him
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
I meant to say he is not going out of state until breeders. Sorry about mishap
Sainbury . More than 1 year ago
At least Mike Smith wraps him up and lets him coast home when he is so far ahead. Martin kept after him to the wire. Why???
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
Because if he doesn't win he gets fired and he wanted to show he can ride him and make a statement. Mike has never been that far ahead. And he wasn't hard ridden and never changed leads until inside the 16th pole. And he's getting two months to the BC Classic.
Mike Knox More than 1 year ago
“I told Martin, ‘You have the fastest horse. Don’t be afraid to be bold,’ ” Baffert said. “I told Martin I didn’t want anyone running him down.” Cos the Boss said dont lose!
Daniel Alvarado More than 1 year ago
There's some people on this blog commenting how EAST coast horses don't pose a threat to Game on Dude come BC Classic. To that I say: good luck DUDE trying to cruise on the lead when monsters like Cross Traffic, Fort Larned, MMM, Moreno and Palace Malice are breathing down your neck. Then horses like Successful Dan, Ron the Greek, Orb and WTC coming like freight trains from off the pace. Now that's Scary!
B More than 1 year ago
Monsters! Are you new to this game? I'm an east coast guy for the most part, but not one of them could be called "monsters". I'm not sure if there is anything in the country that could be called a monster, but if there are, there are only three: Game on Dude, Royal Delta and Wise Dan.
Daniel Alvarado More than 1 year ago
So you're gonna sit there and act like these same horses I just mentioned, for the most part, didn't whip Game on Dude's butt last year in the Classic? IN HIS HOME TRACK! That he's gonna get an uncontested lead and gallop home? LoL!!! Plus it's only gonna be tougher this year with a few new comers like Cross Traffic, etc. Oh and FYI, I've been following this game since I was a kid.
Perl More than 1 year ago
Don't take it too personally, Daniel. This B fella likes to insult people who think Game on Dude might be vulnerable in the BC Classic. Trust me, I've been there.
B More than 1 year ago
You probably won't see this as it is written so after the fact, but contrary to someone else's opinion, my question to you was not meant to be insulting. It was the word monsters that made me question if you were new to the game as I don't think any of the horses you mentioned are anything of unusual quality. They are all a bunch of horses just taking turns beating on another and I'm a big Orb fan, though a very disillusioned one. It was a legitimate question that was taken wrong. My apologies. I too have been involved with this game since I was a kid growing up very close to Monmouth and then spending much of my life at Belmont before moving to the west coast. However, I do think Game on Dude is capable of taking them this time as I believe he has done nothing but improve with age as many would do if we didn't retire them so early before they can hit their peak. It's no coincidence that our two best horses are both 6 year old geldings.
Daniel Alvarado More than 1 year ago
Fair enough B, no harm done...I guess we're not gonna agree on this one, which is cool, but I just believe Dude is going to find it hard to beat the aforementioned horses. The reason they beat up on each other out east is because they're so evenly matched, not because they're ordinary.
Lawrence Macselwiney More than 1 year ago
Add Sweet Lulu to the list.
Perl More than 1 year ago
Agreed. It's just a different sort of race. This one guy went nuts asking for people to name specific horses that could beat THE DUDE. But you need to think more in wholistic terms of how a race may shape up. THE DUDE is an excellent horse and the easy frontrunner for HOY, but the BCC will be a different cup of chowdah and he will be bankrupt in the final furlong once again.
B More than 1 year ago
And no one could or did.....except you and it was Palace Malice, which I found so laughable I had to shut down for the night. This is a much better horse than he was last year, but yes a bunch of speedsters or rabbits could take Dude down and then you would finally be happy, but that wouldn't necessarily make whatever long shot that might win to be a better horse. As I stated last night, if a horse has done enough throughout the year, he/she doesn't have to win the BBC to win HOY. The last five winners haven't and about a dozen more before that didn't either. It's just one race that does not negate a lot of other strong performances prior to the BC.
Perl More than 1 year ago
We seem to be talking past each other. First, I am not interested in a HotY debate. As I said, THE DUDE leads this race by several lengths. So we are in agreement there. As for Palace Malice, laugh all you want, but three year olds do improve and have had success in the BC Classic. I personally think he would be an interesting candidate with his good tactical speed if he can just get out of the gate. You were quick to trash the Belmont Stakes, and the come-home of that race was very bad no doubt, but PM was a length off a 46 and change half mile and still was able to rip the race apart and win by open lengths. Given that the BC Classic is 2f shorter, we can disregard the final quarter of that race since virtually no horse in this country wants 12f anymore. Then he also won the Jim Dandy in a very fast time of 1:47 and 1/5th and was the best horse in the Travers, after spotting the field 2-3 lengths on the break and having to rally wide into a paceless race. So, laugh all you want, pal. Your hubris may have looking past some uncomfortable facts: THE DUDE is 0-4 in races worth $5m plus because when he has to face real heat on the front end, he just doesn't dominate. He loses.
B More than 1 year ago
I'm going to quit this pointless debate, but my final comment is that he is obviously a better horse this year than the last two. He just seems to get better with age. It just irritates me when a horse wins a major race overcoming a lot of preconceived obstacles that people find ways to pick it apart and criticize its excellence. While he is probably my favorite horse in training, I am not passionate about Game on Dude as I have been with others in the past nor just about anyone else running at the moment, though I long for a Point of Entry return or Paynter doing something great. I just think he is the best horse in training and needs to be praised; not knocked.
Big Jeff More than 1 year ago
Very well said B
noalaistoday More than 1 year ago
"Dude" is the best horse in training right now. The only one who might be as good is "Dan' but the owner won't run him against anyone if it's not 1 mile on the grass. "Dude" will romp in the classic!!!!!!
Lawrence Macselwiney More than 1 year ago
BC Classic as it stands now. Game On Dude, Cross Traffic, Fort Larned, Mucho Macho Man, Moreno, Palace Malice, Orb?, Successful Dan and Ron The Greek. If he romps this year he deserves it, because he not getting the lead.
James Madden More than 1 year ago
Hey Alvarado...Your either drunk on drugs or new to the game....Monsters.....LMAO!!!!
Daniel Alvarado More than 1 year ago
Hey James, and you were probably one of those idiots that bet GOD in last year's Classic right?...wait don't say anything cuz I already know the answer to that. We'll see how the Dude fares when those bad boys out east come for him in 2 mths. Drunk? Drugs? New to the game??? LMFAO!!!
Jim Fields More than 1 year ago
GOD reigns superb, and he is a gelding, so much for steriods, and I'm not saying he didn't have some medicinal assistance, but he dominated a very good field. After being a step slow from the gate, Martin did a masterful job of pointing him to the finish line, in the shortest possible route. The Baffert club has a boatload of ammunition for the B cup. and how can you bet against them. I would venture to say, his is an 80% in the money program. When you have this many standout horses, all you have to do is enter them in the right races and name one of the top riders and make damn sure your crew plugs all the holes properly. Top trainers know that each individual horse has to be conditioned to fit his capabilities. They are not robotic machines.
Tee Jay More than 1 year ago
Fed Biz, another Baffert charge got a track record too! Did he really have to beat the same bunch that he always betas by so many lengths? Maybe the horse couldn't help running so fast from the help he recieved?
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
Game on Dude is a gamer but his older brother Ghostzapper was on another plane. Brittle but definitely better than his kid brother.
Ceil Rock More than 1 year ago
Dude and Ghostzapper are not brothers. They are both sons of Awesome Again, but out of different mares. Dude is out of a Devil His Due mare. Ghostzapper is out of Baby Zip, who was also the dam of City Zip.
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
I'm learning. So same father different mother does not constitute brother? In horse speak. Aaaah! You live you learn.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
I agree better. But only one two route races in career. If both those horses ran against each other would kill each other with suicide fraction.
Mr. Ed More than 1 year ago
Horses of course are better when they become a horse of course.
Tom Gaeta More than 1 year ago
Game on Dude reminded me of Verrazano in the Haskell.
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
LOL What about when Game on Dude lost the Breeder's cup classic to Drosselmeyer Who did he remind you of then? LOL Thank God his trainer listens to his instincts. LOL
Daniel Garcia More than 1 year ago
Verrazano in the Travers?