Keeneland Presents American Graded Stakes Standings: The ‘Dude’ Abides
Consistency was the prevailing theme in last weekend’s slate of graded stakes races. This was certainly the case for at least two of the American Graded Stakes Standings categories – leading jockey and stakes-winning horses.
One of the most talented and durable competitors over the past two and a half years, Game On Dude won his second straight graded stakes race this year, as he dominated a high-class field in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap. It was the second Big ‘Cap victory for the 6-year-old gelding, who now has joined the likes of John Henry, Milwaukee Brew, and Lava Man as two-time winners of the race.
The Bob Baffert-trained Game On Dude now has a three-race winning streak that extends back to December, when he scored in the G3 Native Diver Stakes. Sandwiched in between that race and Saturday’s triumph was a win in the G2 San Antonio Stakes in February.
Game On Dude was one of three new additions among the leading graded stakes-winning horses. Along with ‘Dude’, Vyjack and Suggestive Boy each won on Saturday, moving them onto the list with two AGS victories this year.
With his impressive come-from-behind victory in the G3 Gotham Stakes, Vyjack joins Kauai Katie as the only 3-year-olds currently among the leaders. The win gave Vyjack 50 points and moved him into a tie for second in the Road to the Kentucky Derby point standings.
Suggestive Boy has continued to improve in each of his starts since being imported from Argentina. Under the watchful eye of trainer Ron McAnally, the 5-year-old horse by Easing Along has won two consecutive graded stakes, finally notching his first U.S. Grade 1 score in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile. Suggestive Boy, who won the G2 Arcadia Stakes in February, was a multiple Group 1 winner in his native country.
The Santa Anita Handicap victory by Game On Dude moved his sire, Awesome Again, into a first-place tie with Malibu Moon on the AGS sire list. Also moving onto the list this week was Into Mischief, the sire of Vyjack. Into Mischief, who stands at Spendthrift Farm, is currently tied for fifth with English Channel.
There are several interesting names among the roster of leading jockeys, with three Hall of Fame members among those in the top five. Mike Smith and John Velazquez are in a first-place tie with six AGS victories apiece. Each rider had a win last weekend – Smith piloted Game On Dude, while Velazquez was aboard Summer Applause in the G2 Top Flight Handicap.
Also on the list is Edgar Prado, who is off to a hot start in 2013. The Hall of Famer has notched four graded stakes wins so far, including two over the past weekend. Prado was aboard Kitten’s Point in the G3 Herecomesthebride Stakes and the following day rode Rydilluc to victory in the G3 Palm Beach Stakes.
Joel Rosario is also on quite a roll, scoring victories aboard Vyjack and Comma to the Top (G3 Tom Fool) at Aqueduct on Saturday, giving him five graded stakes wins so far this year. Not to be outdone, Joe Talamo won the Kilroe Mile on Suggestive Boy, to keep him in a tie with Rosario for third.