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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

Moreno out to stop a Charles Town Classic repeat for Game On Dude

 

It’s no wonder that Game On Dude has been installed as the 4-5 favorite against six challengers in Saturday night’s $1.5 million Charles Town Classic. Now seven, and fresh off a record third win in the historic Santa Anita Handicap, the grand gelding appears to be as good as ever. Besides the three Big Cap victories, Game On Dude has also collected five more Grade 1 wins, and six other graded stakes scores. In all, he has earned more than six million dollars, while winning 16 of 31 lifetime. He also happens to be the defending champion at Charles Town, having won the Grade 2 event last year. Game On Dude deserves all the accolades going into the rich affair, but another speed horse in here should not be overlooked.


With only two wins in 15 lifetime starts, it’s fair to say that Moreno falls a long way short of the accomplishments of Game On Dude. In fact, while the favorite was cashing a big check this time last year, Southern Equine Stable’s Moreno had accomplished next to nothing. 


When he finished second in a maiden special weight at Santa Anita on April 13, it was his eighth consecutive loss to begin his career. He had run in a graded stakes race as a juvenile, but the son of Ghostzapper was truly going nowhere fast. The crooked legged gelding had nearly as many physical issues as he had defeats, and a turf attempt in his ninth start also would end in defeat.


All that losing would change when trainer Eric Guillot brought his charge to New York. A romping maiden win on Belmont Stakes weekend was followed by a just as easy score in the Grade 2 Dwyer at Belmont Park. Suddenly Moreno was healthy, and putting this racing thing all together.


A trip north for two races against the big boys in the Jim Dandy and Travers at Saratoga did nothing but increase the growing reputation of the speedy gelding that took so long to break his maiden. With his colorful trainer crowing alongside, Moreno ran a solid third to Palace Malice and Will Take Charge in the Jim Dandy, before coming one jump short of gamely carrying his speed all the way around in the Mid-Summer Derby. He did defeat Orb and Palace Malice that day, but lost on the wire to the eventual Eclipse Award winner, Will Take Charge.


Another solid effort, when second to the same winner in the Pennsylvania Derby proceeded a trip back out west for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He failed that day, but now a fresh and more mature Moreno should be ready to test Game On Dude from the opening bell.


After missing an expected start in last Saturday’s Oaklawn Handicap due to being off his feed a day in Arkansas, the gelding was re-routed to the tight turns of the West Virginia oval. Moreno will break from the #2 post, one spot to the inside of Mike Smith and Game On Dude, and reigning Kentucky Derby winning rider, Joel Rosario will be in the saddle on the 3-1 morning line second choice.


Co-third choices at 6-1 on the morning line, are Long River and Clubhouse Ride. The former exits a sharp second place finish in Aqueduct’s Excelsior for the powerhouse Godolphin Stable. Before that, the four-year-old son of A.P. Indy had won three straight. Clubhouse Ride, on the other hand, comes east to attempt to do one better than his fine second place finish in this race last year. No stranger to Game On Dude, the six-year-old Candy Ride horse finished second to the Dude in three consecutive stakes races last year culminating with the West Virginia effort. Clubhouse Ride comes in off a pair of third place finishes in the San Carlos and Santana Mile. 


Adding a little local color to the Classic will be Lucy's Bob Boy. Unknown to most on a national level, the 5-year-old West Virginia-bred sports a sparkling lifetime record of 21-17-3-0 at Charles Town. While the home track advantage will be all his, obviously that record was compiled against a different class of race horse then he will see on Saturday night. 


The sixth running of the Charles Town Classic will be rounded out by a pair of 20-1 chances in Imperative, most recently seventh in the Santa Anita Handicap, and Ruler of Love, the runner-up in last year’s West Virginia Derby. 


The richest race in the country outside of the Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup will be televised by HRTV, with a post time scheduled for 10:30 p.m. 

 

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Older Comments about Moreno out to stop a Charles Town Classic repeat for Game On Dude...

Unless they think they are much the best,gun him or do this or that are instructions rarely given. With a horse like the Dude. I would bet my bottom Dollar that the instructions are the same every time Smith rides him. That would be>>> Let him break clean,after 10 jumps its in your hands what to do. Like in the San Antonio,Smith was content to sit off of Bejarano. When Beja saw that he tried to grab a hold of his horse and back it down. Then the cat and mouse game continued. Smitty seeing this sent for the lead. Bejarano because of his sour taste for being tossed from the horse went again. ERGO the speed duel that knocked them both out. In the big Cap,they were a little more aggressive out of the gate,there was not a speed horse in the race.Why play games and be caught wide. Same with California Chrome.The only reason he went to the front the race prior was that there was no speed. On Saturday , i would be shocked if Baffs did not feel he is tons the best. Why kill your horsein the process.If someone is hell bent on the lead. Give it to them,when the heat gets to much for the other horse. Then you turn it up even more.
Maybe you have access to what Baffert says to Smith. In the San Antonio, I assume he told him to gun foe the lead, seeing as he took several jocks off the horse when they didn't. After being burned out that way, I assume he said be close to the lead. The question this time is how much respect does he have for Moreno. If the horse opens up 6 lengths on the second time around, it will be VERY hard to catch him.
If anyone thinks that Moreno is a good enough horse to win this race on his merits,i will never argue or try and convince otherwise. But what makes anyone think that his front running style will bother G.O.D. . Apparently many did not see last years race where the Dude won. He did not wire the field in doing so,he sat 2nd off of Percussion and dusted him off when he was ready. The fractions were pedestrian,they went 25 / 49 through 4 furlongs. The Dude was relaxed throughout the race. If he were the speed freak people try to make him,he would of never rated 2nd comfortably. Marys favorite monkey is far from being an idiot. If Moreno is hell bent on the lead.Mikey will oblige like he did last year. But the race is not won,just because a horse is on the lead at the half mile pole. Even at the lovable Bull Rings.
I don't think Moreno is a slouch. It surely is a tough spot to return off of a layoff, but he's probably going to make life difficult for Game On Dude. Having drawn to his inside, he'll surely be gunning for the lead. Game On Dude may end up sandwiched with Ruler of Love to his outside. I actually like the way Clubhouse Ride has been coming along. It seems they've been racing him into shape. I think the bullring suits his racing style very well. If he's ever going to beat the Dude, this is the spot.
Wasted writing article.... no body is going to beat Dude...Clubhouse is off form also...Moreno??? Who's that ???
I saw him that day at Monmouth too Andy. I was really excited because I heard so much about him. He was pretty washed out that day. He could add to an already interested pace scenario. Would love to see him peform well against the "big boys"
Any other time I would really like Clubhouse Ride's chances, but I'm not sure about him off the extended layoff due to the unnecessary and unfortunate hoof issues.
I saw Lucy's Bob Boy have a hard time in the Salvator Mile at Monmouth last summer, although he sure is tough on his home track. You have to love horses like that.

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing since birth. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 
  
As Managing Editor of Horse Racing Nation, Brian authors a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and adds his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Brian also serves on the the Board of Directors of ReRun Thoroughbred Adoption and is a Vox Populi committee member. 
  
A graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives in Suburban Chicago with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra, where he is a professional golf instructor when he is not following the horses.