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Baffert's Game On Dude Silences Critics

Game On Dude Big Cap14 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire - Alex Evers

Glib, flippant, aloof, unaffected. Those are the kinds of adjectives that permeate Bob Baffert’s public persona, but beneath that visible veneer lies a warm and beating--albeit resuscitated--heart and a caring soul.

That was evident in the winner’s circle Saturday after Game On Dude made history by becoming the first horse in 77 runnings of the storied Santa Anita Handicap to win the race three times, defeating heralded heavyweights Mucho Macho Man and Will Take Charge in the process.

Game On Dude paid an uncharacteristic $9.60 to win, having been favored in his last 14 U.S. starts, seven times at odds-on. One could almost detect a tear in Baffert’s eyes as he discussed the front-running victory, covered in 1:58.17 for a mile and a quarter, a stakes record, eclipsing Affirmed’s 1:58 3/5.

The message seemed clear: Don’t ‘diss’ my horse.

“To me, it’s an emotional win for the horse,” Baffert said of the 7-year-old gelding, who earned $450,000 to push his career bankroll to $6,163,893. “It kills me when they knock on him, but we came in quiet and that’s the way I like it. We came in under the radar and we were ready for them.”

Added Mike Smith, who piloted the son of Awesome Again to his 16th win from 31 career starts: “Bob’s proud of Game On Dude. He’s like family to him. When you knock him, you’re walking on the fightin’ side of Bob, I guess, like it says in the old country song that Merle Haggard used to sing.

“That’s kind of what happened. It kind of struck a nerve a little, and it was fabulous that the horse was able to show that he not only can compete, but beat those kinds of horses.

“He needed to run like that to beat them. When you’re dealing with that kind of talent, if you’re off your game just a half a step, these horses will beat each other. “So you’ve got to be really ‘on’ to compete with horses of that quality. Game On Dude was that and a little more yesterday.”

Trainer Kathy Ritvo reported that Mucho Macho Man came out of his fourth-place finish in the Big ’Cap “good” and will look at options this week for his next race. Mucho Macho Man ships back to Florida on Wednesday.

 

 

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Older Comments about Baffert's Game On Dude Silences Critics...

A lot of blogger are eating crow, including me. I still can't believe his final time!
'd rather not blame the Dude when he loses? When he can do this?
See why I
Riht along with Baffert i had a tear of joy for the Dude all thou I thought those back east horses were to much class for him after the beating he took from them before But I love racing and he is what racing is all about this day and age

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