Game On Dude made a game of the Pacific Classic, winning the race by an easy 8 1/2 lengths (Photos courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire).
Getting his revenge after finishing second in this race last year, Game On Dude made history in the $1 million Pacific Classic Stakes to stay undefeated in 2013.
Game On Dude made the Pacific Classic seem like a walkover when he took the lead and set reasonable fractions before saying “see ya” to the rest of the field in the turn. With jockey Martin Garcia, the gelding was all alone when he hit the wire in an impressive display of dominance. The final margin for the victory was 8 ½ lengths, the largest margin of victory in the history of the Pacific Classic.
The ‘Dude’ has won six straight since finishing a disappointing seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Classic last year, including three Grade 1 events this year alone. He is the first horse since Lava Man, California’s last insanely popular gelding, to win the Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup, and Pacific Classic in the same year.
Trained by Bob Baffert, Game On Dude had an interesting jockey situation for this race, first losing regular rider Mike Smith, who rode Royal Delta at Saratoga on Sunday, before Joel Rosario was named to ride the gelding. But Rosario suffered an injury on Friday that knocked him out for six weeks. When Baffert scratched Liaison due to an unfavorable post position, Game On Dude was the benefactor, picking up Martin Garcia.
“He has been working well and you could tell he’s a different horse this year here. He was just doing everything so smoothly," Baffet said. "I loved the way he was in the paddock today. He wasn’t too keen he was real relaxed. I ran the race in my mind and there was so much other speed. But at the end of the day, I told Martin: ‘You have the fastest horse so don’t be afraid to get bold with him.’"
Garcia exercises the gelding in the mornings and had ridden Game On Dude during races in the past but hadn’t been on the horse since they finished third together in May of 2011. Going off as the favorite, they covered the 1 /4 mile distance of the Pacific Classic in a time of 2:00.69. Kettle Corn again finished second to Game On Dude while last year’s winner Dullahan finished third.
Game On Dude is owned in partnership by Bernie Schiappa, Mercedes Stable, Lanni Family Trust, and Diamond Pride LLC. By Awesome Again, Game On Dude has earned $5,602,158 in his career with 15 wins in 27 starts.
“I was nervous. I told Bernie what ever he has, it’s catching," part owner Joe Torre said. "I had been pretty calm, and I’d watched Dude run a few times now. But for some reason today I was jumpy as all get out. I can’t tell you how exciting it was to watch him. The stretch run, that was goose-bump stuff there.”
For an Equibase chart, click here.
MARTIN GARCIA CELEBRATES THE WIN ABOARD GAME ON DUDE