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Behedeman (Eddington x Ragtime Hope, by Dixieland Band) ran better than his 20-1 morning line suggested, surging 5-wide late to be 4th, losing by just 2 lengths.

Behedeman (Eddington x Ragtime Hope, by Dixieland Band) ran better than his 20-1 morning line suggested, surging 5-wide late to be 4th, losing by just 2 lengths.

Much love for Little Mike

Much love for Little Mike

Palace Malice & Mike Smith ran second in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (I)

Palace Malice & Mike Smith ran second in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (I)

Breeders’ Cup Classic Profile #3: Game On Dude

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Basics:

(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

Vital Stats:

  • 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.

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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!

Little Mike chooses to not be so modest about his win in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (I)

Little Mike chooses to not be so modest about his win in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (I)

This one’s going in my virtual stable. I had much love for the tall, handsome Tourist, a son of Tiznow owned by WinStar who made his debut on Super Saturday, racing 3rd. Mike Smith, up. (Photo by Dawna Wood/The Galloping Hat Rack)

This one’s going in my virtual stable. I had much love for the tall, handsome Tourist, a son of Tiznow owned by WinStar who made his debut on Super Saturday, racing 3rd. Mike Smith, up. (Photo by Dawna Wood/The Galloping Hat Rack)

What just happened? Royal Delta returns after finishing 2nd in the Beldame Invitational. (Photo by Dawna Wood/The Galloping Hat Rack)

What just happened? Royal Delta returns after finishing 2nd in the Beldame Invitational. (Photo by Dawna Wood/The Galloping Hat Rack)

Easter Gift and Mike Smith in the Kelso Handicap (II) post parade (Photo by Dawna Wood/The Galloping Hat Rack)

Easter Gift and Mike Smith in the Kelso Handicap (II) post parade (Photo by Dawna Wood/The Galloping Hat Rack)

See that red white and blue pole? I was right next to that on the fence for this. Waaaaa Palace Malice? I must be his lucky charm because the last time he won for fun (or at all) was when I was there for his Saratoga maiden win. I guess he and I are buddies now.

See that red white and blue pole? I was right next to that on the fence for this. Waaaaa Palace Malice? I must be his lucky charm because the last time he won for fun (or at all) was when I was there for his Saratoga maiden win. I guess he and I are buddies now.

Back to Belmont: A Recap of My 145th Belmont Experience

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Palace Malice! The latest one of my Saratoga ponies to do awesome things (Photo by Gary Hershorn)

It wasn’t my first trip to Belmont Park, and it certainly won’t be my last— possibly this year alone. Last year, I delighted in the triumph of Union Rags in the Belmont Stakes and made the pilgrimage from western Massachusetts over the Throgs Neck Bridge to New York’s Long Island for the third jewel of the Triple Crown. The race has a pulse different from the other races whether you watch it in person or on TV, and many who have been to all 3 races have told me it is special in its own way and a race they just have to make it to. Read on for my personal journey, insights, and handicapping triumphs and woes (mostly woes) from the big day I’ve been looking forward to since the start of the crown.

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