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HRN Original Blog:
Toasting with Andrew Champagne

Older Horses Look to Steal Show Saturday

Game On Dude will try to rebound from a loss in the Breeders' Cup Classic in the San Antonio Stakes Saturday at Santa Anita. Sound familiar? It should.

If the Bob Baffert-trained gelding finds the winner's circle Saturday afternoon in Arcadia, it will mark his third consecutive triumph in the San Antonio, a traditional prep for the Santa Anita Derby (which he's also won twice). The son of Awesome Again sports an impressive worktab since his second-place finish in the Clark Handicap last November, and he will face a field of six other older horses this weekend.

Game On Dude's primary competition may challenge him from the moment the gates are sprung. Blueskiesnrainbows comes in after two wins in a row, both in wire-to-wire fashion. The winner of both the Native Diver and San Pasqual also ran second in the Breeders' Cup Marathon, and we'll see just how good he is when he knocks heads with the Dude, arguably California's top handicap horse.

There appears to be a significant gap between those two and the rest of the field. Neither of the 6-1 co-third choices, Blingo or Majestic Harbor, have ever won a graded stakes race, and the other three entrants are 10-1 or higher on the morning line.

However, the other graded stakes for older horses Saturday is MUCH more wide-open. The Grade 2 San Marcos will be contested at 1 ¼ miles on turf, and it boasts a talented field of 13 headlined by Jeranimo. The 8-year-old loves Santa Anita, and most recently captured his third San Gabriel Stakes victory in typical last-to-first fashion.

Jeranimo is the 7/2 morning line favorite, but 9/2 second choice Vagabond Shoes also figures to take plenty of action. Last seen running fifth in the Breeders' Cup Turf, the John Sadler trainee won last year's Del Mar Handicap and ran second in both the Eddie Read and John Henry Turf Championship Stakes. Five other horses are single-digit odds on the morning line, driving home the fact that this may be the most wide-open contest Southern California racing has seen to this point in the year.

The San Antonio and San Marcos are on the undercard of a day headlined by the Robert B. Lewis Stakes for 3-year-olds. Post time for the San Antonio is 2:30 p.m. Pacific, while the gigantic San Marcos field goes to the starting gate at 3:34.


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Older Comments about Older Horses Look to Steal Show Saturday...

saw from the chart he was challenged significantly early same scenario that beat him badly in the past...A router GROOVY
Hard to beat the only one on the lead particularly this short. Contenders:5 Game On Dude 4 Majestic Harbor 1 Willyconker (IRE)

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Meet Andrew Champagne


A native of upstate New York and a graduate of Ithaca College, Andrew Champagne fell in love with horse racing at a very early age on summer trips to Saratoga. His turf writing credits include time spent as a sportswriter, weekly columnist, and handicapper at The Saratogian, a summer working for The Saratoga Special, and "field research" at OTB facilities in Saratoga Springs and his hometown of Kingston. He also spent two years in the athletic communications office at Siena College, and interned with NBC Olympics at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.

Andrew moved to Pasadena, Calif., in October of 2013, and now serves as an Associate Producer in HRTV's Digital Media department and Horse Racing Nation's Southern California writer. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewChampagne, and email him at andrewdchampagne@gmail.com.

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