Game On Dude (right) holds off Richard's Kid
in the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup
Game On Dude made up for a narrow loss in the 2011 Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) with a front-running victory in this year's renewal, beating stablemate Richard's Kid by 1 1/2-lengths to complete the Bob Baffert 1-2 finish.
History was also made by Chantal Sutherland on Saturday, as she became the first female jockey to win the race in its storied history. Baffert set a mark as well, with back-to-back exactas following the First Dude-Game On Dude finish last year. Game On Dude's win was Baffert's fourth in the Gold Cup; Real Quiet (1999) and Congaree (2003) were his other winners.
Tracking an unexpected pacesetter in Spud Spivens through a rather quick 47.71 opening half mile, Game On Dude began to pull away around the far turn, kicked three lengths clear with a quarter of a mile to run and held Richard's Kid off as Sutherland peeked back for competition in the final sixteenth.
The pedestrian final time of 2:04.19 was not unexpected for a track that has been playing very slow of late.
“I could actually hear Rafael (Bejarano, who rode Richard’s Kid), yell, ‘I’m coming Chantal,’ at the quarter pole,’’ said Sutherland. “We’re friends and it was just like ‘I’m coming to get you,’ like a game of tag.
“(Game On Dude) wanted to go after (Spud Spivens) early and kept fighting and fighting, but then he kind of chilled out a little bit. When he started getting a little pushy about it, I had let him to do his thing. Down the lane, I didn’t want to hit him or push on him, but I was getting a little nervous.”
“They had to run one-two,’’ said Baffert. “They’re two really good horses. That longshot (Spud Spivens) made them go pretty brisk. Game On Dude was getting a little tired, but he needs the competition.
“It looked like Richard’s Kid was going to come up to him, but he dug in there at the end. I’m glad they both ran their races and I’m happy for Chantal because I sort of got goose bumps when (track announcer Vic Stauffer) said she was trying to become the first woman to win this. I hoped it wasn’t the kiss of death."
Owned by a Joe Torre’s Diamond Pride LLC, Lanni Family Trust, Ernie Moody’s Mercedes Stable LLC and Bernie Schiappa, Game On Dude, who carried top weight of 124 pounds, won for the eighth time in 18 starts. The $300,000 payday pushed his bankroll to $2,644,658.
The Gold Cup is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In’’ event, Game On Dude earned a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, a race in which he was second to Drosselmeyer last Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs. This year’s Classic will be run Nov. 3 at Santa Anita Park.