Game on Dude on His Game For Pacific Classic

by | 08.25.2013 | 8:43pm
Game On Dude looks to defend his title in the Pacific Classic

Game On Dude, generally considered the top handicap horse in America, strengthened his claim to ultimate “Horse of the Year” honors with a romping, 8 ½ length triumph in the Grade I $1 million TVG Pacific Classic Sunday at Del Mar.

With Martin Garcia subbing 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 margin in Del Mar's signature contest. The previous record margin was 5 ½ lengths by Skimming in the 2001 renewal.

In a blanket finish for runner-up honors, 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).

Byrama, the lone female in a field of a dozen male horses, was seventh, with Dullahan, the 2012 Pacific Classic winner, checking in a disappointing eighth.

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, thus 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.

Game On Dude, in his third try in the Pacific Classic after having finishing fourth in 2011 and second a year ago to Dullahan, nevertheless went postward the solid 8-5 favorite and returned $5.40, $3.80 and $3.20 while earning $600,000. His career total is $5,602,158 as he continues as the richest horse in training in North America. . He has 15 wins in 27 lifetime efforts.

Kettle Corn, who was ridden by Victor Espinoza, paid $5.60 and $4.40, while You Know I Know paid $9 to show.

The final time was 2:00.69 for the mile and one-quarter on the main track , compared to the record 1:59.54 set by Dullahan a year ago.

The Pacific Classic is one of the Breeders' Cup's “Win and You're In” qualifying races with the winner guaranteed an all expenses paid spot in the Breeders' Cup Classic, set for Saturday, Nov 2 at Santa Anita. Game On Dude finished seventh to Fort Larned in the BC Classic in 2012, his last loss before reeling off six straight victories.

See the full chart here.

Pacific Classic Quotes

MARTIN GARCIA (Game on Dude, winner) – “It was fun out there. He broke really good and got clear. When the other horses went outside I stayed inside. I didn't have to ask him for anything special coming home. He's a professional. He's knows where he's supposed to go.”

“I feel amazing. I still can't believe that I won.”

VICTOR ESPINOZA (Kettle Corn, second) – “He ran a terrific race. They were going so slow up front. I knew that. So I moved a little earlier than I wanted to on the backside so I could get a spot. He fired; he ran big. But we were second best today.”

EDWIN MALDONADO (You Know I Know, third) – “I'm so pleased. This was a wonderful race for this horse. Going into that first turn I could see they were going awful slow, so I started working my way up; going through the cracks. He came running at the end; really well. So good for John (trainer John Sadler). We ran second (Kettle Corn) and third.”

JOSEPH TALAMO (Richard's Kid, fourth) – “Great trip for him. That wasn't a problem at all. He came running, but he wasn't running fast enough.”

CHANTAL SUTHERLAND-KRUSE (Holding Glory, fifth) – “I got away from there a little slow and I was stuck behind a wall of horses the whole way. I just couldn't get him out to run. I'm not going to beat the winner, but maybe I'm second if I get a chance.”

LUIS CONTRERAS (Delegation, sixth) – “I liked my position all the way around. But today, that winner was just too tough.”

GARY STEVENS (Byrama, seventh) – “No problems for me. I think she would have liked it better running against her own kind.”

RAFAEL BEJARANO (Dullahan, eighth) – “No troubles on my trip. I just ran out of horse at the half-mile (pole).”

COREY NAKATANI (Jeranimo, ninth) – “He made a nice move at the three-eighths (pole) and I thought I had dead aim on the winner. But Game On Dude was just too much.”

JULIEN LEPAROUX (Endorsement, tenth) – “It was a good trip. I'm not sure my horse was comfortable with the distance.”

BOB BAFFERT (Game on Dude, winner) – “He ran just like he's been training. He looked terrific out there. When I saw him make the lead on the first turn I knew it was all over. Martin will finally get paid for working him.

“He has been working well and you could tell he's a different horse this year here. 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.'

“It was very emotional for me. I watched it with (wife) Jill in the paddock, in a room with just the two of us and the paddock judge. To go through what we did with him last year, getting run down late like we did. And for Bernie (Schiappa), it's like his child. If you want to (anger) Bernie just say something bad about Game On Dude.

“Then the way he did it. He just made a huge statement. It was just great day for horse racing in Southern California.”

JOHN SADLER (Kettle Corn second, You Know I Know third) — “We were thrilled with the way our horses ran. Kettle Corn ran a really big race to get second and You Know I Know ran a tremendous third, the race of his life. So we're very, very happy. We wish there had been some pace in front of them but it just wasn't there. The other speed horses just didn't go.”

LEANDRO MORA, assistant to Doug O'Neill (Richard's Kid, fourth) –“It was a good race. Nobody went with the speed and that set up the result that we just saw. Nobody went with Game On Dude and everybody was fighting for second place. My respects to Game On Dude, he's the new Lava Man of the era.”

JERRY CRAWFORD, Donegal Racing, (Defending champion Dullahan, eighth) – “The pace was very slow, 1:12 3/5ths for three quarters was more than a second slower than last year and we didn't have the best of trips.”

Part owner of Game On Dude Joe Torre: “I was nervous. I told Bernie what ever he has, it's catching. I had been pretty calm, and I'd watched Dude run a few times now. But for some reason today I was jumpy as all get out. I can't tell you how exciting it was to watch him. The stretch run, that was goose-bump stuff there.”

  • walter

    baffert is arod

    • Bein

      Please, just shut up. I want to enjoy a great performance, and they test for that. Please, again, just shut up.

  • nu-fan

    Fabulous horse but, also, an absolutely great ride by Martin Garcia.

  • Guy Fleegman1

    Leave Garcia on The Dude….Mike Smith is great…but the right thing to do is leave Garcia on the horse…let’s see if Roberto Bafferto has the stones to do that. Would score a lot of street cred..

    • nu-fan

      Along with the sweetness of winning, Martin Garcia must be enjoying this win even more because of the circumstances…..

  • Terry Too
  • amgm1431

    It was spectacular to watch. I like the way you posted comments from each jockey

  • Don Reed

    A rout. The most embarrassing spectacle of a mismatch since the Americans and the French chased the fleeing Germans up the Rhone valley in August 1944.

    • nu-fan

      It was a breathtaking win, wasn’t it???? Wow. The only thing missing was a red carpet on the tracks for this wonderful horse. I was expecting a bit more competition from some of the other horses, though. Many are very good. But, again, what a win!!!! This is what makes horseracing exciting even if the favorite did win. He made that win memorable.

      • Don Reed

        Agreed with all of the above, although the only thing that saved this from turning into the spectacularly boring Personal Ensign at Saratoga on the same weekend was that the Del Mar field was huge. Hence, there was a possibility that the race might have been competitive.

        I was annoyed that Hollendorfer had so little respect for the Pacific Classic itself (and the bettors) that he put in a 70-1 horse, “Blue Skies,” an automatic loser that clearly wasn’t competitive. I think we should go back into the electronic files to see if Jerry had publically denounced the eccentric owner-trainer of Rick’s Natural Star for putting that horse in a BC race.

        The real winner of this race, I think, was Richard’s Kid, who finished in fourth place at the age of 8! How many 8 year olds hit the board in Grade One Races in which they can be entered?

        You Know I Know also deserves a good deal of respect for getting third
        at about 2,500-1. He has mine.

  • Bein

    If any of you raise Thoroughbreds, remember…don’t name them something stupid. They tend to live up to their names.

    Game On Dude! So true. What a pleasure to see him do his thing. I love that happy smile on Garcia’s face in the above photo too. I’m so glad he got the mount.

    • HorsesRGR8

      I don’t know if it superstitious or what but I’ve made the same observation.

  • LaraHa

    what a race! and martin takes home a nice paycheck. good for him!

  • harry

    Game On Dude has no competition in California. When a horse is let open up in a race with the first quarter in 24:1 and 2 lengths on top the race is over very quickly.There will be very few excuses for Game On Dude in not winning the BC Classic on his home surface at Santa Anita. Basically if he gets lead by himself he at this stage of his career is unbeatable. What is said is Martin Garcia works Game On Dude regularly so he knows this horse but Baffert continues to not let Garcia ride this horse on a regular basis. He only rode him today because of injury to Joel Rosario and he knew Liason was not running when he entered that horse and said he scratched because of post position. Wow yea that really bad #2 post position very weak excuse. Rosario could not have ridden Dude any better than Martin Garcia did yesterday. Martin has ridden many good races for Baffert but no matter how much he wins Baffert seems to go to other riders which to me is sad. Martin is as good a rider as there is in California or anywhere else coast to coast.Baffert did not look happy when interviewed by TVG commentator after the win of Pacific Classic.Maybe Ray Paulick reports about him starting to get to him.

  • HogHater

    Will Game On Dude, Fed Biz and all of the recent Baffert runners be able to reproduce these record performances Breeder’s Cup weekend? Will the entire barn vanish like last year?

  • Beach

    Game on Dude is changing call signs. Game on Dude will now be known as “THE DOMINATOR”… :-)

    1 1/4 miles, and he’s jogging around with his tail in the air and his ears pricked…*I* am the king, and YOU are not… :-)

    I’m no fan of match races, but, how about Wise Dan vs. Game on Dude–the challenge would be what surface to pick.

    Congrats to all; he’s a great horse…

    • Don Reed

      Game On Dominator would be a logical name change. Probably offensive to those who don’t care for the braggadocio ring to it.

      • Beach

        All tongue-in-cheek… :-)

        • Don Reed

          To us yes, but to the bizarre owners who think up names like “Betty’s Bathroom,” to the well-heeled anthill proprietors, these things actually take place/occur. Be well.

  • Ida Lee

    Game On Dude thoughts on yesterday’s race: “Another boring race…I want to get back to my stall…OK everybody, I’m out of here…hey, who’s the girl? What do you mean I’m a gelding?”

  • Cara Ezzell


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