03/03/2013 3:54PM

Santa Anita: Game On Dude being considered for Charles Town Classic

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Emily Shields
Game On Dude pulls away in the stretch to win the Santa Anita Handicap by 7 3/4 lengths.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Game On Dude was not all there when he romped to a record win in Saturday’s $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap.

“He blew a front shoe,” trainer Bob Baffert said Sunday.

Baffert was not sure when Game On Dude lost the shoe in the race, but said the 6-year-old gelding did not suffer a bruise or any other negative effects.

Game On Dude won the Big Cap by 7 3/4 lengths, a record margin for the race over 1 1/4 miles. Carrying top weight of 125 pounds, Game On Dude led throughout under jockey Mike Smith, pulling away from eight rivals in the stretch.

“Game On Dude was able to add to his resume,” Baffert said. “He was supposed to win. He was supposed to do that.”

The Big Cap was Game On Dude’s third consecutive stakes win, preceded by the Native Diver Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park in December and the San Antonio Stakes here last month. The Big Cap win helped to erase the disappointment of a seventh-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic here last November, a race that cost Game On Dude a chance at the 2012 Horse of the Year title.

The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 2 is the long-term goal for Game On Dude. How he is campaigned through the spring and the rest of the year remains uncertain. Saturday, Baffert mentioned the $1.5 million Charles Town Classic in West Virginia on April 20 as a possibility, but did not commit that race Sunday.

“We’ll have to see,” he said.

Game On Dude has run well at Charles Town, having finished second to Duke of Mischief in the 2011 Charles Town Classic. That race was preceded by Game On Dude’s win in the 2011 Big Cap. Game On Dude’s victory in Saturday’s running made him the fourth horse to win two runnings of the Big Cap, joining John Henry (1981-82), Milwaukee Brew (2002-03), and Lava Man (2006-07).

Game On Dude is owned Bernie Schiappa, Mercedes Stable, the Lanni Family Trust, and Joe Torre. A 6-year-old gelding by Awesome Again, Game On Dude has won 12 of 24 starts and $3,702,158.

Clubhouse Ride and Called to Serve were second and third in the Big Cap, and they are unlikely to start in the Charles Town Classic.

Clubhouse Ride, trained by Craig Lewis for Nikolas Petralia and Six-S Racing Stable, earned $150,000 for the runner-up finish, the richest payday of his 26-race career. A 5-year-old horse, Clubhouse Ride was second to Game On Dude in the San Antonio Stakes on Feb. 3.

In the Big Cap, Clubhouse Ride (27-1) was fourth early, a clear second in early stretch, and was fully extended to hold off Called to Serve by a nose. The second-place finish left Clubhouse Ride with career earnings of $619,620.

“When I bought him for $22,000 at Barretts, I never thought he’d be second in the Big Cap,” Lewis said Saturday.

Clubhouse Ride was purchased as a 2-year-old at the 2010 Barretts January mixed sale.

Called to Serve made his first start in a Grade 1 in the Big Cap. He was fourth on the final turn and closed well along the rail under Gary Stevens.

Trainer Nick Canani said that he and owner Marc Ferrell are considering the $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap in Arkansas on April 13 or the $300,000 Pimlico Special in Baltimore on May 17 for Called to Serve’s next start.

Canani thought that the 4-year-old Called to Serve could have finished better if he had avoided traffic on the turn.

“He kind of got shuffled going into the far turn, and I think it cost him second,” he said. “He likes to race on the outside.”