Game on Dude, the leading handicap horse in the country, dominated rivals in the TVG Pacific Classic (G1) on Sunday at Del Mar.
With Martin Garcia filling in for the injured Joel Rosario, Game On Dude hustled to the lead in the first few strides from the gate and never was seriously threatened, winning by a record 8 ½ lengths in Del Mar’s signature contest. The previous record margin was 5 ½ lengths by Skimming in the 2001 renewal.
“He has been working well and you could tell he’s a different horse this year here,” said winning trainer bob Baffert. “He was just doing everything so smoothly. I loved the way he was in the paddock today. He wasn’t too keen he was real relaxed. I ran the race in my mind and there was so much other speed. But at the end of the day, I told Martin: ‘You have the fastest horse so don’t be afraid to get bold with him.’
In a blanket finish for second, Kettle Corn, the San Diego Handicap winner this summer, prevailed by a nose over You Know I Know, who was the same margin in front of fourth-place Richard’s Kid, the two-time Pacific Classic winner (2009-10).
Game On Dude, a six-year-old gelding by Awesome Again, owned by the partnership of Diamond Pride, Lanni Family Trust and Schiappa and trained by Bob Baffert, became only the second horse in the same year to complete California’s handicap triple comprised of the Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup and Pacific Classic. Lava Man accomplished the feat in 2006.
The $600,000 winner’s share of the purse lifted his career bankroll to $5,602,158 as he continues as the richest horse in training in North America. He has 15 wins in 27 lifetime efforts.