Game On Dude Looks Super in San Antonio
Game On Dude took some heat for six furlongs, then sped away in the stretch to take the $196,000 San Antonio Stakes (gr. II) (VIDEO) as expected Feb. 3 for his sixth win in seven tries at Santa Anita Park.
Game On Dude won the San Antonio for the second straight year.
Owned by Joe Torre’s Diamond Pride, Lanni Family Trust, Ernie Moody’s Mercedes Stable, and Bernie Schiappa, Game On Dude ran his record to 11-5-1 in 23 lifetime starts with $3,252,158 in purse earnings. Game On Dude paid $2.10 to win and $2.10 to place. There was no show wagering.
Torre was part of the large contingent that made its way to the winner's circle after the race.
``He just seems to be such a great competitor,'' Torre said. ``I'm not an authority on horses. I sit next to Baffert whenever I can, and when he told me at the top of the stretch that he's got plenty left, I sort of relaxed a little bit.''
Game on Dude, who was bred in Kentucky by Adena Springs out of the Devil His Due mare Worldly Pleasure, was making his first start since winning the Native Diver Stakes (gr. III) Dec. 1 at Betfair Hollywood Park.
The Hall of Fame trainer wasn't entirely pleased with the San Antonio outcome.
"He grabbed himself a little bit on the ankle coming away from there, but it looked pretty superficial," Baffert said of Game On Dude. "The horse runs well fresh. I really didn't want to run that fast early. I wanted him to cruise around there. I wanted a Flashback kind of a win (referring to Flashback's easy win in Saturday's Robert B. Lewis Stakes). We'll see how it takes its toll on him, but he ran a good race."
Leaving from post 2, Game On Dude, carrying top weight of 123 pounds, went to the front and was quickly joined on his outside by Basmati, who stuck to the favorite through the clubhouse turn and down the backstretch. The other two horses in the field, Clubhouse Ride and Make Music for Me, dropped about five lengths behind the leaders, who clipped off quick fractions of :23.38, :46.78, and 1:10.53.
"You know I got pressured, even more so than if it was a full field, believe it or not," Smith said. "In these short fields people make you do things because it's more of a match race. He has a high, high cruising speed and you just let him get into his rhythm whether that's up front or off the lead.
Smith said he thought the race sets Game On Dude up well for the Santa Anita.
"This is an extremely talented horse, he might even be better this year," Smith said. "The feeling he gave me today was even more so than when I first rode him."
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