08/24/2013 1:16PM

Pacific Classic: Garcia knows Game On Dude well; Liaison scratch due to post position


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DEL MAR, Calif. – Martin Garcia on Saturday morning was named to ride Game On Dude in the Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic on Sunday at Del Mar after his original mount, Liaison, was scratched from the race.

Joel Rosario was scheduled to ride Game On Dude, but he was forced to the sidelines for six weeks because of a broken foot suffered Friday at Saratoga.

Bob Baffert trains both Game On Dude and Liaison, but they have different ownership. According to Arnold Zetcher, who owns Liaison, he and Baffert had been thinking of scratching from the Pacific Classic since the race was drawn on Wednesday night, when Liaison landed post 2 in a field of 13 for the 1 1/4-mile race. Instead of running there, Zetcher said Liaison would instead go in the $90,000 Harry Brubaker Stakes on Aug. 31.

“Right after the draw, Bob and I started talking about whether to run. We didn’t like him drawing inside, where he could be squeezed,” Zetcher said Saturday morning. “What happened with Rosario and Garcia was almost unrelated to this. This decision really was a separate decision. We’re doing what’s best at this time for Liaison. This is the right move.”

It was a move that made it easier to find a replacement for Game On Dude, who is owned by the partnership of Bernie Schiappa, Joe Torre, Debbie Lanni, and Ernie Moody. Garcia regularly works Game On Dude, so he is very familiar with the race’s morning-line favorite.

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Rosario became the rider for Game On Dude owing to a conflict regarding Mike Smith, who had ridden Game On Dude to five straight wins, but had chosen to be in Saratoga on Sunday to ride Royal Delta in the Personal Ensign.

Because Rosario was scheduled to be here Sunday, he had picked up other choice mounts on the card, including Goldencents in the Grade 2 Pat O’Brien for sprinters. He will be replaced on Goldencents by Patrick Valenzuela, according to trainer Doug O’Neill.

Rosario had mounts in 10 of the 11 races scheduled to be run at Del Mar on Sunday.