In his first start since a forgettable trip to the United Arab Emirates, Game On Dude responded with a record performance in the Californian Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park.
In front of an on-track crowd that included part owner Joe Torre, the 5-year-old Awesome Again gelding took command from the outset in the Grade 2 event under Chantal Sutherland and rolled to a 7 ¼-length win over Kettle Corn and two others.
The margin of victory was the largest in the history of a race that was first run in 1954. The previous best was seven lengths by Old Trieste in 1999.
Defeated by 20 ½ lengths when 12th in the $10 million Dubai World Cup when last seen March 31 at Meydan Race Course, Game On Dude stamped himself the one to defeat in the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup July 7. He lost by a nose to stablemate First Dude in the 2011 renewal of the Grade I.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert for a partnership that also includes the Lanni Family Trust, Ernie Moody’s Mercedes Stable LLC and Bernie Schiappa, Game On Dude, the even-money favorite, won for the seventh time in 17 starts. He increased his bankroll to $2,344,658.
Sutherland, who has been aboard the Kentucky-bred in four of his wins, Game On Dude ran the 1 1/8 miles over Cushion Track in 1:48.01. The clocking was the fastest in the Californian since Heatseeker went 1:47.06 in 2008.
“He was quick out of there,’’ said Sutherland, who also won the day’s final race with Luckyvic. “(Baffert) said to get him in the race. (Morning Line) got a little close to him early and he got aggressive. On the backside, I didn’t move a muscle. I don’t even know if I breathed. He was just like on go. He relaxed sweet and the he just took off.
“He made me look like a champion,” she added. “It’s so much fun to ride a horse like that, I can’t tell you. It’s just like unbelievable, the power and so much endurance. Bob said in the paddock he might be a little short. If that’s Bob’s short, what the heck.’’
–Hollywood Park Publicity
Game on Dude and Chantal Sutherland/Benoit photo