Game On Dude in full control of the Big 'Cap
Six-year-old Game On Dude looked better than ever in Saturday's $1 million Santa Anita H. (G1), rolling to a front-running, 7 3/4-length victory in Santa Anita's marquee race for older horses.
The win set a pair of milestones in the historical race: Bob Baffert won for the third time in four years, while Game On Dude became the first two-time winner in non-consecutive years. Baffert won the race in 2010 with Misremembered, while Game On Dude finished first in 2011. Baffert's other Big 'Cap win came in 2000 with General Challenge.
As he almost always does, Game On Dude shot right to the front in Saturday's 1 1/4-mile marathon. Mike Smith had his mount under a loose hold first time under the wire, but was still about two lengths clear of Handsome Mike going into the first turn. Game On Dude looked completely relaxed for the backstretch run, getting the six furlongs in 1:10.97.
Coming into the homestretch, Mike Smith shook the reins at the son of Awesome Again, and Game On Dude responded with a burst of speed that put five lengths on the field. Smith relaxed in the final sixteenth to glide to the finish in a quick 2:00.14.
“I think this is a race that will stamp him as the great horse that he is,” Baffert said. “I was impressed watching him myself as a fan. I give all the credit to Mike Smith He really gets along with the horse.”
Game On Dude recorded his seventh win in eight career starts at Santa Anita. Co-owned by Joe Torre, Bernie Schiappa, Mercedes Stable, the Lanni Family Trust, Game On Dude earned $450,000 with the win to push his bankroll to $3,702,158 with 12 victories in 24 lifetime starts.