Game On Dude, a 6-year-old gelded son of Awesome Again who is a leading contender for Horse of the Year honors and the likely favorite for the $5 million Classic on Nov. 2, went an easy half in :50 3/5 under regular work rider Martin Garcia, who was in the irons for an 8 1/2-length victory in the Aug. 25 TVG Pacific Classic (gr. I) last time out.
Hall of Famer Mike Smith will be back aboard Game On Dude in the Classic; he paired with the Bob Baffert trainee for five stakes scores in a row, but took off his last start to ride top distaffer Royal Delta to victory in the Aug. 25 Personal Ensign Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course.
Game On Dude is undefeated in 2013 and will make his third consecutive Classic try. He finished seventh in 2012 and narrowly missed the 2011 edition to Drosselmeyer for his Hall of Fame trainer and the ownership group that includes Bernie Schiappa, Joe Torre, and the Lanni Family Trust.
Janis Whitham's homebred Fort Larned, who won the Classic last year, also went a half in preparation for the big event. The 5-year-old son of E Dubai was timed in :49 flat by Churchill clockers for trainer Ian Wilkes in his first move since a victory in the Sept. 28 Homecoming Classic at the Louisville oval.
Sophomore Will Take Charge, who won the Travers Stakes (gr. I) and Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) for Willis Horton and Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, went five furlongs in 1:00 2/5. The Unbridled's Song colt, who is out of multiple grade I winner Take Charge Lady, will face elders for the first time in the 1 1/4-mile Classic at Santa Anita.