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Baffert Works Game on Dude, Midnight Hawk

Game On Dude and Midnight Hawk took a baby step Sunday morning on potentially a path to greater glory, each working towards weekend stakes engagements for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

Game On Dude, in his final major move for Saturday’s Grade II, $300,000 San Antonio Stakes, went four furlongs under Martin Garcia in 48 seconds flat at the 7:45 a.m. break. The track was closed for training at 8:30 due to an 11 a.m. first post to accommodate fans who wished to be in front of a TV for today’s “Big Game” between Denver and Seattle.

Midnight Hawk worked five furlongs in company with Awesome Baby in preparation for Saturday’s Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes, an important prep for the Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 5. The son of two-time Breeders’ Cup Sprint king Midnight Lute, unbeaten in two starts including the Grade III Sham Stakes, Midnight Hawk was clocked in 1:00.60 for five furlongs, also with Garcia aboard.

Midnight Hawk started some six to eight lengths behind Awesome Baby, closed the gap on the far turn, then wore down his stablemate to finish a half-length in front at the wire. Private clocker Gary Young caught the seven-furlong gallop-out in 1:26 2/5.

“All systems are go,” Baffert said. “We’re all set.”

Game On Dude could face as few as three rivals in the San Antonio, Santa Anita’s final stakes steppingstone to the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 8. In addition to Game On Dude, probable San Antonio entrants include San Pasqual Stakes winner Blueskiesnrainbows, American Blend and Willyconker.

Trainer Patrick Biancone said he has retained the services of Julien Leparoux to ride Oak Tree Juvenile Turf winner Diamond Bachelor in the Lewis.


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