Game On Dude
, who won the Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup July 7, will try
for his third win in four local starts in the $250,000 Native Diver
Stakes – Presented by the Oak Tree Racing Association – Saturday at
Betfair Hollywood Park.
A Grade III at 1 1/8 miles over Cushion
Track, the Native Diver is the fourth of 10 races. Post time is 12:30
p.m. Track gates will open at 10 a.m. for simulcasts.
The Pick Six pool is guaranteed at $150,000, as it has been and will
continue to be every Saturday throughout the Autumn meet. Should the
pool reach $200,000, Happy Hour food and drink specials will be
available at Whittingham’s Pub. The average pool size through the first
three weeks of the season was $237,454.
Additionally, a single winning Pick Six ticket –purchased either at Betfair Hollywood Park or through Television Games Network (TVG) – will earn a bonus – a 2013 Toyota Prius courtesy of Toyota of Orange.
Owned by Joe Torre’s Diamond Pride LLC, Lanni Family Trust, Ernie Moody’s Mercedes Stable LLC
and Bernie Schiappa and trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, Game On
Dude will be trying to rebound from a subpar performance in the
Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 3 at Santa Anita.
The 13-10 favorite in the Grade I, Game On Dude lost position early
after an eventful start and never threatened, finishing seventh, 15
lengths behind upset winner Fort Larned.
A winner of nine of 21 with earnings of $2,994,658, the 5-year-old
Awesome Again gelding out of the Devil His Due mare Worldly Pleasure
could become the sixth horse to win both the Gold Cup and the Native
Diver. Mast Track was the last to accomplish the double, winning the
2008 Gold Cup and the Native Diver some 17 months later.
Hall of Famer Mike Smith will become the third different rider for
Game On Dude in a span of four races. He replaces Rafael Bejarano, who
took over for the now-retired Chantal Sutherland.
A win by Game On Dude would be the second in the race for Baffert,
who has an Autumn meet leading three stakes victories. General Challenge
scored for the trainer in 1999.
Second behind Game On Dude in the Gold Cup when still trained by
Baffert, Richard’s Kid will be seeking his first win in his fourth start
since joining the Doug O’Neill stable.
Owned by a partnership that includes Dave Kenney, Triple B Farms and
Westside Rentals.com, Richard’s Kid finished fifth in the BC Classic,
seven lengths in front of Game On Dude.
This effort came on the heels of consecutive third place finishes in
the Grade I Pacific Classic Aug. 26 at Del Mar and the Grade I Awesome
Again Sept. 29 at Santa Anita.
A 7-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid out of the Broad Brush mare Tough
Broad, Richard’s Kid has won 11 of 38 and banked $2,286,385. He’s won
twice in four races over Cushion Track.
A victory by Richard’s Kid would be the third for O’Neill in the
Native Diver. He won with Sky Jack (2000) and Slew’s Tizzy (2008).
Defending champion Kettle Corn will aim for his second win of the
meet when he returns to the main track for owner Lee and Susan Searing’s
C R K Stable and trainer John Sadler.
A winner by a neck as the even-money favorite in a $57,008 allowance
on turf Nov. 8, Kettle Corn will try to become the first two time
winner of the Native Diver.
Never worse than third in five races over Cushion Track, Kettle
Corn, a 5-year-old Candy Ride horse out of the Lil E. Tee mare
Somethingbeautiful, has won seven of 19 and banked $364,111.
The last trainer to go back-to-back in the Native Diver was Hall of
Famer Richard Mandella, who won three in a row – Gentlemen (1996),
Refinado Tom (1997) and Puerto Madero (1998).
Nonios, who won the Grade III Affirmed
Handicap June 3 during the Spring/Summer meet, will attempt to become
the first 3-year-old to win the Native Diver since Momentum in 2001.
Trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer for owner Green B.
Smith, Jr., the son of Pleasantly Perfect out of the Touch Gold mare
Stylish Manner is 3-for-9 with earnings of $409,000. He has lost five in
a row since his surprise at nearly 16-1 in the Affirmed, but was second
in a pair of Grade I’s – behind Paynter the Haskell Invitational July
29 at Monmouth Park and Game On Dude in the Awesome Again.
Make Music for Me returns from a layoff of more than six months for
trainer Alexis Barba and owners Ellen and Peter O. Johnson, Sr.
Away since a 3 ¼ length allowance win on turf May 19, the 5-year-old
Bernstein horse out of the Carson City mare Miss Cheers will be trying
for his first win in his ninth race over a synthetic surface.
Yet to finish better than third in three races over Cushion Track, Make Music for Me has won four of 26 and earned $529,100.
From inside out, the field for the 34th Native Diver Stakes: Game On
Dude, Mike Smith rides, 124 pounds; Richard’s Kid, Rafael Bejarano,
119; Make Music for Me, Tyler Baze, 117; Nonios, Martin Pedroza, 119 and
Kettle Corn, Garrett Gomez, 119.