Multiple graded stakes winner Game On Dude will make his first start since a forgettable trip to the United Arab
Emirates in the $150,000 Californian Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park.
A Grade II at 1 1/8 miles over
Cushion Track, the Californian is the final major prep for the Grade I,
$500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup July 7. It is the eighth of nine races. Post time
Saturday is 1 p.m. Track gates will open at 9:55 a.m. for simulcasts.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert
for a partnership that includes Joe Torre’s Diamond Price LLC, Lanni Family
Trust and Bernie Schiappa, Game On Dude finished 12th of 13 in the $10 million
Dubai World Cup March 31 at Meydan Race Course.
This subpar performance – he
finished 20 ½ lengths behind winner Monterosso – came only days after Baffert
had suffered a heart attack.
A 5-year-old gelded son of Awesome
Again and the Devil His Due mare Worldly Pleasure, Game On Dude has won six of
16 and earned $2,254,658.
Five of those wins have occurred
since he joined the Baffert stable in the spring of 2010. His most significant
victory came by a nose in a controversial Santa Anita Handicap March 5, 2011.
The dark bay, who was bred in Kentucky by Adena Springs, survived a lengthy
stewards’ inquiry after finishing a nose in front of Setsuko.
His other Grade I win came in the
2011 Goodwood Stakes last fall at Santa Anita. Game On Dude had the lead at
14-1 in the Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 5 of last year at Churchill Downs, but
was collared shortly before the wire by Drosselmeyer.
The Californian will be Game On
Dude’s second race at Betfair Hollywood Park. He was second – beaten by a nose
– by stablemate First Dude in the 2011 Gold Cup while finishing a neck in front
of favored Twirling Candy.
The primary threat to Game On Dude
in the Californian is Morning Line.
A 5-year-old Tiznow horse out of the
A.P. Indy mare Indian Snow, Morning Line was successful in his California debut
for trainer John Shirreffs, wiring the field in the Grade II Mervyn LeRoy
Handicap May 5.
Owned by Will Farish, Dixiana
Stables and Thoroughbred Legends Racing Stable, Morning Line had been away for
nine months prior to defeating Prayer for Relief and seven others in the LeRoy.
The Kentucky bred has won five of 13
and earned $1,212,300. Morning Line could become the third horse in nine years
to win both the LeRoy and Californian, joining Even the Score (2004) and Rail
Baffert, who has never won this
race, will also be represented by the aforementioned Prayer for Relief.
Owned by Ahmed Zayat, the 4-year-old
Jump Start colt out of the Mr. Sparkles mare Sparklin Lil has won five of 14
and banked $1,087,225.
Four of Prayer for Relief’s wins
came during his 3-year-old season, including three Derbies – the Iowa at
Prairie Meadows, West Virginia at Mountaineer and Super at Louisiana Downs.
Bred in Kentucky by G.R. Aschinger,
Prayer for Relief has not been worse than second in four races over Cushion
Track. His wins were in a $50,000 maiden claimer at six furlongs during the Oak
Tree/Hollywood Park meet Oct. 10, 2010 and an allowance at 1 1/16 miles May 29,
Kettle Corn could move forward in
his second of 2012 after finishing third in the LeRoy.
Trained by John Sadler for Lee and
Susan Searing’s C R K Stable, the 5-year-old son of Candy Ride had been idle
five months when he surfaced in the LeRoy. He was defeated by 4 ¼ lengths, his
first loss in three races over the local main track.
Out of the Lil E. Tee mare
Somethingbeautiful, Kettle Corn wrapped 2011 with a victory in the Grade III
Native Diver Handicap. The half-length win came 16 days after an optional
claiming score in his Cushion Track debut.
A winner six times in 13 outings,
Kettle Corn has earned $189,891. Most of his bankroll and three of his wins
have come in six starts since he was privately purchased by his current
Salder will be seeking consecutive
victories in the Californian, having won a year ago with Twirling Candy. The
last trainer to win the race back-to-back was the late Bobby Frankel – Skimming
(2001) and Milwaukee Brew (2002).
Joel Rosario, who was aboard
Twirling Candy, has the mount aboard Kettle Corn. The last rider to win the
Californian in consecutive years was Chris McCarron – Mud Route (1998) and Old
Owned and bred by Triple AAA Ranch
and trained by R. Kory Owens, Uh Oh Bango returns to California after splitting
the field in the Grade II Charles Town Classic April 14.
A 5-year-old son of Top Hit and the
French Deputy mare French Debutante, Uh Oh Bango has won five of 20 and earned
$691,512. He is 1-for-2 over Cushion Track. The Arizona bred won an optional
claimer at 1 1/16 miles in his Betfair Hollywood Park debut May 12, 2011.
From inside out, the field for the
Californian: Game On Dude, Chantal Sutherland rides, 120 pounds; Uh Oh Bango,
Mike Smith; 118; Morning Line, Joe Talamo, 118; Prayer for Relief, Rafael
Bejarano, 122 and Kettle Corn, Joel Rosario, 118.