Game On Dude, who successfully defended his title in the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) July 6, came out of the race in great shape, according to Mike Marlow, assistant trainer to Hall of Fame conditioner Bob Baffert.
"He came back well," said Marlow. "He ran like the champion he is. He's just so professional. He never gets excited."
Mike Smith echoed Marlow's sentiments after winning for the fifth consecutive time aboard the big dark bay.
"He was unusually quiet in the post parade and he had me a little worried," said Smith. "But when he went into the gate, he was all business."
Game On Dude's ultimate goal is the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park, a race he has failed to win the past two years after finishing second and seventh. The 6-year-old Awesome Again gelding, who surpassed $5 million in career earnings with his sixth grade I win, could meet Gold Cup runner-up Kettle Corn in the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic Aug. 25 at Del Mar.
Trainer John Sadler reported that Kettle Corn, who gave Game On Dude a brief scare at the top of the stretch before finishing second, returned in excellent order.
"He's in good shape today," said Sadler. "He'll probably run twice at Del Mar; the San Diego (July 27) and Pacific Classic."
Sadler said Kettle Corn's big effort came be attributed in three equal parts to a great ride from Rafael Bejarano, getting 11 pounds (127-116) from the winner, and the addition of blinkers.