Game On Dude reeled in pacesetter Henshin Hero near the quarter pole and took charge in the lane to register his first stakes victory in the $200,000 Lone Star Derby (gr. III) (VIDEO) May 8 in Grand Prairie, Texas.
Trainer Bob Baffert earned his fourth Lone Star Derby victory thanks to Game On Dude, who defeated five 3-year-old rivals in the 1 1/16-mile event. The winning time was 1:44.61 over a fast track.
Ridden for the first time by Martin Garcia, the 6-5 favorite broke inwardly and bumped while wearing blinkers for the first time but settled into a stalking position third as Henshin Hero broke alertly and opened up a 2 1/2-length advantage over Wando Redd.
Henshin Hero, ridden by Bobby Walker Jr., posted quarter-mile fractions of :22.87, :46.34, and 1:11.03 while maintaining a two-length edge after six furlongs. But Game On Dude, who moved into second entering the final turn, rallied on the turn to collar Henshin Hero on the outside and took control coming into the stretch. He drew off under good handling to win by 4 1/2 lengths.
Crider, with Aaron Gryder aboard, briefly threatened in the stretch but was no match for the winner while gaining the place spot by 3 1/2 lengths over Henshin Hero, who was making his first route effort for trainer Bret Calhoun. Wando Redd, Thatlleaveamark, and Gilded Woodman completed the order.
Game On Dude made his second start for Baffert in the Lone Star Derby following his purchase last month by the Lanni Family Trust, Mercedes Stable, Diamond Pride, and Bernie Schiappa. The gelded son of Awesome Again --Worldly Pleasure, by Devil His Due, ran fifth in the Derby Trail (gr. III) at Churchill Downs April 24, losing by nearly 20 lengths.
He previously raced for Michael Mareina, breaking his maiden by three lengths in his second start Feb. 27 at Gulfstream Park prior to a seventh-place showing in the Florida Derby (gr. I).
Baffert, the only trainer in the 13-year history of the Lone Star Derby to win it more than once, captured last year's edition with Peachtree Stable's Mythical Power. The trainer teamed with Garcia and Mythical Power to win the Texas Mile (gr. III) at Lone Star two weeks ago. Baffert's other wins in the Lone Star Derby came with Wanna Runner in 2006 and Anet in the inaugural running in 1997.
Game On Dude earned $122,000 for his second win in five starts and boosted his purse total to $157,258.
The winner was bred in Kentucky by Adena Springs.
Under equal weight of 122 pounds, Game On Dude paid $4.40, $2.60, and $2.20 while keying a $10.20 exacta. Heiligbrodt Racing Stable's Crider, who ran fifth in the Southwest Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park in February for trainer Steve Asmussen, returned $3.20 and $2.40. Henshin Hero was $2.40 to show in his stakes debut.