(Awesome Again x Worldly Pleasure, by Devil His Due)
- Trainer: Bob Baffert (Silver Charm, Lookin at Lucky, Point Given)
- Jockey: Mike Smith
- Owned by: Diamond Pride LLC, Lanni Family Trust, Mercedes Stable LLC and Schiappa, B.
- Career Record: 27:15-5-1
- Earnings: $5,602,158
- 2013 Record: 5:5-0-0
- 2013 accomplishments: Undefeated in 5 starts, winner of 3 G1 10-furlong races
- Win and You’re In winner: Pacific Classic
- Santa Anita record: 8:7-0-0
- TrueNicks rating: D Variant 0.22
- Dosage Index: 3.29
- Highest Equibase Speed Figure of 2013: 122 (unchanged from last year)
- Sire Awesome Again won this race
- Won last prep [10-furlong Pacific Classic by 5 1/2 lengths]
- Trainer has won 7 Breeders’ Cup races, closest to Classic win came in 2011 when Game On Dude was 2nd to Drosselmeyer
- Aims to be the first gelding to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic
- Aims to be the oldest horse (age 6) to win
Summary: Will the third time prove to be the charm for Game On Dude? In 2011 he was second. Last year he was a [poorly tripped] seventh. He has had a different jockey for each of his three runnings, and each time presented himself as a beast keen to perform. This year, Bob Baffert has changed a few things, like keeping the gelding home in California and without a September prep race in hopes of having him fresh off the layoff. It’s worked before, but can the Dude finally pass the test?
Prep Schedule: Undefeated this season, Dude kept his head up after the Classic, winning the 2012 Native Diver (III) by 1 1/2 lengths going wire-to-wire on Hollywood’s polytrack. He kicked the year off right in the 9-furlong San Antonio (II), romping by 5 1/2 lengths over 3 rivals. A month later, he turned heads in the Santa Anita Handicap (I), winning the 10-furlong classic by nearly 8 lengths over a good field. Not slowing down, he shipped cross-country for the Charles Town Classic (II) 6 weeks later, going wire-to-wire in a hard-fought victory with questionable glue-on shoes, defeating rival Clubhouse Ride by a half length. Taking a break, he returned to Santa Anita a few months later as a fresh horse, running again from wire-to-wire to beat Kettle Corn in the 10-furlong Hollywood Gold Cup (I) by a length. Second off the layoff, he was at his best yet in the Pacific Classic (I), wowing the crowd with a dominant 8 1/2 length over a strong field.
Physique: While not the most visually impressive horse standing still, Dude’s biggest asset is his efficiency; he coasts over the ground while others are trying their best to keep within touching distance. His consistently good stride is his biggest plus.
Pedigree: Sire Awesome Again won the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1998 in one of the strongest fields (in my opinion) in memory, then went on to sire one of the most impressive winners of the race in Ghostzapper as well as many other accomplished distance-goers including Paynter, Awesome Gem, and Oxbow.
Running Style: Likely pacesetter, usually goes wire-to-wire in victory
Pros: Speed succeeds, and Game On Dude has it in volumes and is arguably the best horse on the home turf of Santa Anita, and he is having his best year ever to date. Baffert is brushing him up for a big effort here, and he picks up the winningest Breeders’ Cup rider Mike Smith.
Cons: The Classic this year looks full of speed already with Fort Larned, Game On Dude, possibly Graydar, and others looking for that lead or just off of it. It has also been disputed that Dude hasn’t faced much apart from the same old foes he’s already bested all year, leaving him vulnerable to more competitive invaders from the east.
Final Word: Due to be the favorite once again this year, Game On Dude is in his element as he was the past two runnings and is keen to get it right this year as he contends for a possible Horse of the Year title. While he goes wire-to-wire and has speed to burn, Mike Smith could likely get this horse to relax on the lead early once again and try to set up coasting fractions— who in the past has wanted to mess with the Dude on the lead anyway— before trying to run away with it. Try and catch him!