Game On Dude earned a repeat win in the Hollywood Gold Cup Handicap on Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park. (Benoit Photo)
A dominant performance from the top horse in Southern California provided a fitting result for the final edition of the Hollywood Gold Cup to be held at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Game On Dude controlled the pace and steamrolled to a clear win in the 2013 Hollywood Gold Cup – a race won through the years by legends of the sport such as Citation, Swaps, Round Table, Gallant Man, Affirmed and Native Diver.
With Hollywood Park scheduled to be closed after this year, the 74th and final edition at the Southern California track was a repeat victory for Game On Dude, racing’s top star on the West Coast and certainly its top older male.
GAME ON DUDE AFTER 2013 GOLD CUP
Courtesy of Benoit Photo
Game On Dude won the 2012 Hollywood Gold Cup by 1 ½ lengths and prevailed by a length as the 3-10 favorite on Saturday under regular rider Mike Smith. He joined Native Diver and Lava Man, both of whom won the race three times, as a winner of multiple editions of the Hollywood Gold Cup.
Smith sent Game On Dude right to the front in the 1 ¼-mile race and the 6-year-old Awesome Again gelding cruised through a leisurely half-mile in :49.31. Facing four challengers, Game On Dude faced a bit of pressure with about a quarter of a mile remaining but shifted gears and increased his advantage entering the stretch.
Kettle Corn gradually cut into Game On Dude’s lead in the stretch but the favorite would not be denied.
“He’s a fighter and if you’re going to try and beat him, you’ve got to flat run by him," Smith said. "He’s not the type of horse you can creep up to and try to run by. He’s just a warrior.”
Kettle Corn was game in defeat. The runner-up was 6 ¾ length clear of third-place finisher Sky Kingdom.
Hall of Famer Bob Baffert trains Game On Dude for partnership of former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre's Diamond Pride LLC, Bernie Schiappa, Lanni Family Trust and Ernie Moody’s Mercedes Stable.
“He had that look today,’’ said Baffert. “He had control of the pace and everything went like we drew it up in our mind.
“He just finds more gears as he goes along. There’s added pressure when you train a horse like him. He has a fan base now. You don’t want to see him get beat because of the fans. I can hear them cheering him on. When they turned for home, it was like the whole place was on my side.”
For an Equibase chart, click here.
GAME ON DUDE HOLDS OFF KETTLE CORN IN HOLLYWOOD GOLD CUP
Courtesy of Benoit Photo