With four Grade I wins and a solid last out Beyer Speed Figure of 109
to his credit, Game On Dude
towers over four rivals as he defends his
title in Sunday’s Grade II, $200,000 San Antonio Stakes for older horses
at 1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita.
A facile gate to wire winner at odds of 1-5 of the Grade III
Native Diver Stakes on Dec. 1, Game On Dude was a disappointing seventh
in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 3. Prior to that, he was
an impressive 3 ¼ length winner, at odds of 1-5, of the Grade I, 1 1/8
miles Awesome Again at Santa Anita on Sept. 29.
Ridden by Rafael Bejarano in both the Awesome Again and
Breeders’ Cup Classic, Mike Smith took over for the first time in
Betfair Hollywood Park’s Native Diver.
“I know this horse is brave, so I just put him where I thought I
had to,” said Smith. “The key for me was to win…He won pretty much
When asked about tactics for Sunday’s San Antonio, Smith indicated that he intends to keep things simple.
“Stay out of his way,” is how Smith summed up his approach.
“Things can happen in short fields, as we all know. Everyone knows
where everyone’s at. Each rider can kind of sit there and make it a
sprint for home, but Game On Dude’s a naturally quick horse and has a
great cruising speed.
“I’m just going to let him do his thing, and I’d do that even if
it was a bigger field. We’ve just got to get away well and get him in a
place where he can do what he does best, and that’s run. That’s my
job, anyway. Hopefully, he does the rest.”
A winner of the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap in 2011 with
Chantal Sutherland aboard, Game On Dude, a 6-year-old Kentucky-bred
gelding by Awesome Again, is trained by Bob Baffert and owned by Joe
Torre’s Diamond Pride LLC, the Lanni Family Trust, Bernard Schiappa and
Game On Dude is 7-5-1-0 at a mile and one eighth and his overall mark is 22-10-5-1, with earnings of $3,132,158.
Though Game On Dude may be committed to a front-running game
plan, Jerry Hollendorfer’s Chosen Miracle could occupy that position. A
hard-knocking sprinter on turf, the 5-year-old by Ghostzapper stretched
out for a gate to wire win at 1 1/16 miles on turf on Dec. 8 and
employed similar tactics when third, beaten 3 ¼ lengths in the Grade II
San Gabriel Stakes going 1 1/8 miles on turf Jan. 13.
Chosen Miracle’s lone main track win came in his debut over a
sloppy track going six furlongs at Hawthorne Racecourse on April 19,
With two wins on turf and one on synthetic, Chosen Miracle’s
overall mark stands at 11-4-3-2. Owned by Abruzzo or Carver, he has
earnings of $175,744.
Trainer Craig Lewis will send out Clubhouse Ride, who like
Chosen Miracle, was also entered to run in Saturday’s Grade II Arcadia
Stakes at one mile on turf. Clubhouse Ride comes off a good
second-place finish from off the pace in a tough third-condition
allowance going a mile on grass Jan. 10. It’s expected Aaron Gryder
will again take him back early in the San Antonio.
Owned by Six-S Racing Stable and Niko Petralia, Clubhouse Ride has earnings of $429,620 from a record of 24-3-5-8.
Make Music for Me makes his third start off a freshening in the
San Antonio and will try to regenerate some of the luster he generated
as a Kentucky Derby hopeful three years ago. Trained by Alexis Barba,
the Kentucky-bred horse by Bernstein was a sharp gate to wire winner
three starts back on May 12, when he beat a classified allowance field
going 1 1/8 miles on turf by 3 ¼ lengths.
Given the speed that’s expected from Game On Dude and Chosen
Miracle, Make Music for Me figures to get a stalking trip on Sunday
under Martin Garcia. Owned by Ellen and Peter O. Johnson, Make Music
for Me has a mark of 28-4-3-3 and earnings of $540,400.
Second in the Grade III Delta Jackpot as a 2-year-old, Doug
O’Neill’s Basmati pressed the pace and was well beaten in the opening
day Grade I Malibu at seven furlongs. One race prior to that, he was
prompt allowance winner going seven furlongs on Nov. 2, his first start
since running poorly in the Grade I CashCall Futurity in December, 2011.
Owned by Zillah Reddam, Basmati, a 4-year-old colt by Borrego,
is 10-2-3-1, with earnings of $321,050. He’ll be ridden for the third
consecutive time by Mario Gutierrez.
The San Antonio Stakes, which will be run as the seventh race on
an eight-race program Sunday, with jockeys and weights in post position
order: Clubhouse Ride, Aaron Gryder, 118; Game On Dude, Mike Smith,
123; Make Music for Me, Martin Garcia, 118, Chosen Miracle, Joe Talamo,
118, and Basmati, Mario Gutierrez, 118.