Martin Garcia was slated to ride Liaison in the Aug. 25 TVG Pacific Classic (gr. I) at Del Mar, but inherited a bigger assignment when jockey Joel Rosario fractured his left foot in an Aug. 23 racing accident at Saratoga Race Course.
Garcia will ride 5-2 morning-line favorite Game On Dude in the Pacific Classic, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said Aug. 24. Meanwhile, Liaison will scratch from the race and will be entered in the $90,000 Harry F. Brubaker Stakes at one mile at Del Mar Aug. 31. Liaison is owned by Arnold Zetcher, while Game On Dude races for Bernie Schiappa, Joe Torre, Debbie Lanni, and Ernie Moody.
"We thought about scratching him after he drew a bad post (2), and then after Joel got hurt it was kind of a no-brainer," Baffert said. "Martin knows Game On Dude really well; he's the one that works him every time he runs. It wouldn't have been fair to scratch Liaison and then put someone else on (Game On Dude) and have him standing on the sidelines."
Rosario, injured when his mount dropped him past the wire in the seventh race of the day at Saratoga, was named to replace Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith aboard Game On Dude, a six-time grade I winner. Smith opted to ride champion Royal Delta in Saratoga's Personal Ensign (gr. I) Aug. 25.
Rosario, 28, is the nation's leading rider by purses and wins. He was also to ride Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Orb in the Aug. 24 Travers Stakes (gr. I), but was replaced by Jose Lezcano.
"I hate to see Joel get hurt like that," Baffert said. "Here's a guy who has been on this incredible roll. It just goes to show you how dangerous their job is."