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Game On Dude, Mythical Power comeback winners

Game On Dude, idle since finishing fourth to Drosselmeyer in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) last June, returned to action at Santa Anita Jan. 27 with a sparkling victory to help trainer Bob Baffert continue on his torrid pace.
 
Guided by Rafael Bejarano, odds-on choice Game On Dude captured the seventh race, a $60,154 optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles, by 1 ¼ lengths over When We Met in 1:40.77 to give Baffert and Bejarano a sweep of the day’s co-features.
 
Baffert’s Mythical Power, idle since a dismal last-place showing in the Kelso Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont Park Oct. 10, came roaring home under Bejarano in the fourth race, a $63,400 optional claimer at seven furlongs.
 
The pair of victories gave Baffert a total of 21 on the meet’s 21st day and left him on a pace that would wipe out Doug O’Neill’s Santa Anita meet record of 56 victories that was set in 2006-07 during a meet that encompassed 85 days. Baffert is working within 76-day parameters this season. His winning rate at the 2010-11 meet is just a shade under 44%, a figure seemingly unattainable even by Baffert’s lofty standards.
 
Game On Dude, who earned his place in the Belmont Stakes with a 4 ½-length triumph in the Lone Star Derby (gr. III) one month before, went to the sidelines following his effort in the third leg of the Triple Crown. “He did something to a hind ankle,” Baffert said, “so I had to stop on him.”
 
The 4-year-old gelded son of Awesome Again returned impressively, however, as Bejarano brought him from behind to win going away. “He broke a little slow,” said Santa Anita’s leading rider. “I let him get comfortable, and he was really good. He ran really strong.”
 
“He had been working really well,” Baffert said. “We’ve always been really high on him. This was a stepping stone. Today’s race was what we were looking for.”

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