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All Systems Go for Game On Dude

Game On Dude is reported to be doing well following his disappointing run in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (Grade I) and trainer Bob Baffert said Wednesday that it was “all systems go” for a journey by his veteran to Churchill Downs for the $500,000-added Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI) on Friday, Nov. 29.

Baffert said the only issue that could derail plans for Game On Dude’s cross-country journey would be a disagreeable Clark Handicap weight assignment for the 6-year-old Awesome Again gelding.

Weight assignments the 19 3-year-olds and up that were nominated to the 140th running of the Clark are scheduled to be announced on Friday, Nov. 22.

“The weight is a factor,” Baffert said. “He’s coming off a loss, so I guess he’ll get some consideration.”

Game On Dude finished ninth as the favorite behind Mucho Macho Man and expected Clark rival Will Take Charge, who were separated by a nose in the Nov. 2 race at Santa Anita. Prior to that performance he had reeled off six consecutive wins dating to a seventh-place finish to Fort Larned in the 2012 Classic, which was also run at Santa Anita.

The winning streak included Grade I triumphs in the Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup and Pacific Classic.

Game on Dude carried a career-high 127 pounds in the Gold Cup.

Owned by Diamond Pride LLC, the Lanni Family Trust, Mercedes Stable LLC and Bernard Schiappa, Game On Dude’s career record stands at 28-15-5-1 with earnings of $5,602,138 heading into the Clark.

Baffert’s star has run twice at Churchill Downs. He was runner-up to Drosselmeyer in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic and ran fifth to Hurricane Ike as a 3-year-old in the 2010 renewal of Derby Trial (GIII).

Game on Dude returned to serious training following the Breeders’ Cup on Sunday, Nov. 17. He worked six furlongs in 1:12.60 at Santa Anita, move that was the fastest of nine on the day.

"He’s doing really well,” Baffert said, “so right now all systems are go.”

Baffert indicated that Game On Dude would have one more pre-Clark work this weekend. He will ship to Kentucky next Wednesday.

A victory by Game On Dude would be Baffert’s third in the Clark.  He won the race in 1998 when Robert and Beverly Lewis’ Silver Charm, winner of the 1997 Kentucky Derby, became the first Derby winner since Calumet Farm’s Whirlaway to take both races. Whirlaway won the Derby and Triple Crown in 1941 and returned to take the Clark the following year.


Baffert also won the race in 1996 with Terry Henn and Mike Pegram’s Isitingood, his first starter in the Clark.

He saddled Misremembered in the 2009 Clark and lost by a head to Blame, who would win the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2010. Other Baffert runners in the Clark have included Tribunal, who finished 10th and last in the 2001 renewal; During, who finished 12th in 2003; and Prayer for Relief, who was trained by Baffert when he ran ninth in the 2011 Clark won by Wise Dan, who would earn “Horse of the Year” honors the following year.    

 

 

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I think the eastern horses are better than west coast

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