To anyone that thought that Game On Dude would need a race or two to get back in top form after a disappointing trip to the Middle East this March, I ask, “What were you thinking, Dude?” Today at Betfair Hollywood Park, the powerful gelding proved once again that he is on the short list of the best horses in America with a scintillating romp over a group of three overmatched foes in the Grade 2 Californian.
Breaking in rhythm under his partner in crime, Chantal Sutherland, Game On Dude loped right to the lead from his rail post position. With grade 1 winner Morning Line in close contact for the first six furlongs, it was apparent the Dude was moving effortlessly as Sutherland never moved her hands off the long reign she was giving the best horse she has ever ridden.
By the time the field hit the three-eighths pole, the race was all but over. Morning Line started to drop away as Game On Dude began to get serious. The stretch run saw the son of Awesome Again stride to the wire tons the best as an appreciative crowd roared in approval for the horse they had hammered down to even money with confidence.
The Bob Baffert charge hit the wire an easy 7 1/4 lengths in front, with Kettle Corn, Prayer for Relief, and Morning Line completing the order of finish. Final time for the nine furlongs was a solid 1:48.01, after the winner set only moderate early fractions.
For Game On Dude, the victory was his 7th in 17 lifetime starts, including five graded stakes wins and over $2.3 million in earnings. With the Breeders’ Cup coming back to California and Santa Anita this fall, the five-year-old bay has re-announced himself a real threat to do one better than his second place finish in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Other than the unfortunate trip to Dubai, he has won both of his 2012 starts with disdainful ease, with the other start coming in a 5 ½ length romp in the San Antonio Handicap in February. Tougher competition is most assuredly coming, possibly in the form of Triple Crown hopeful, I’ll Have Another, but for now, Game On Dude should be considered the horse to beat in the big race in November.