Game on Dude captured his second Santa Anita Handicap (G1) on Saturday, simply trouncing his rivals in the famed 1 1/4-mile test.
Ridden by Mike Smith, Game on Dude, winner of the 2011 Big ‘Cap, assumed command at the start and was never seriously challenged in the $750,000 event, crossing the wire 7 3/4 lengths clear of runner-up Clubhouse Ride, a 27-1 long shot. Called to Serve finished third, and defending Santa Anita Handicap champ Ron the Greek finished a non-threatening fourth. Game on Dude, a son of Awesome Again, was bred in Kentucky by Adena Springs and races for the partnership of Joe Torre’s Diamond Pride, Lanni Family Trust, Mercedes Stable and Bernie Schiappa.
“I looked over at the screen I was counting the poles, even, even, odd, and I thought this is great man, this is perfect,” said Smith. “Then, going into the far turn when they were starting to catch me, he takes this big breath, and he just takes off.”
Trained by Bob Baffert, Game on Dude became the fourth two-time winner of the prestigious race, joining John Henry, Milwaukee Brew and Lava Man. Saturday’s race was the first ever Big ‘Cap that featured two past winners of the race in Game on Dude and Ron the Greek.
As for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) later in the year, Baffert indicated that is the target for Game on Dude. “Hopefully, we’ll keep him healthy and keep him at this level. He’s going to have to take a break somewhere along the line, but the way he’s running right now is pretty incredible.”
Game on Dude/Benoit photo