This is the 4th of a series of profiles of the contenders for the 2011 Breeders' Cup Classic. Earlier, we took a look at Await the Dawn, Drosselmeyer, and Flat Out. This profile examines the top West Coast contender, Game On Dude.
Horse: Game On Dude
Trainer: Bob Baffert
During his career, Bob Baffert has trained seven Breeders' Cup winners from 57 starters: Midnight Lute (2007 & 2008 Sprint), Midshipman (2008 Juvenile), Indian Blessing (2007 Juvenile Fillies), Vindication (2002 Classic), Silverbulletday (1998 Juvenile Fillies), and Thirty Slews (1992 Sprint).
Morning Line Odds: 10/1
Career Record (Str-1st-2nd-3rd): 13-5-3-1
Career Earnings: $1,234,658
Pedigree: Sired by Awesome Again out of a Devil His Due mare (Worldly Pleasure)
Awesome Again won the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic in 1998, along with the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap, Grade 2 Stephen Foster Handicap, Grade 3 Hawthorne Gold Cup, and Grade 2 Saratoga Breeders' Cup.
Awesome Again has sired four Breeders' Cup winners, the most of any horse: Wilko (2004 Juvenile), Ghostzapper (2004 Classic), Round Pond (2006 Distaff), and Ginger Punch (2007 Distaff)
Key Stakes Wins: Grade 1 Goodwood Stakes (Santa Anita), Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap (Santa Anita)
Overview: One of the more consistent horses among the Classic contenders, Game On Dude has finished 3rd or better in all but one start during 2011, including wins in the Grade 1 Goodwood Stakes and the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap. He was second by a nose to First Dude in the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup. His "worst" performance of the year came at Del Mar where he was fourth (beaten 4 ¼ lengths) in the Pacific Classic over the Polytrack.
The prime asset of Game On Dude is his high cruising speed; he is routinely able to sit on or near the early pace and still have enough left in the tank for a strong finish in the final furlongs. He's tested at the Classic distance of a mile and a quarter, finishing 1st, 2nd and 4th in his three starts at that distance. The combination of early speed and stamina is a powerful asset for any Classic contender. His victory in the Goodwood was quite impressive when you consider that he didn't break well from the gate, had to hustle towards the leaders during the first quarter mile, and was caught about three wide as they raced into the first turn. But after he settled in near the lead, Game On Dude posted a very quick opening six furlongs of 1:09 flat and then found plenty of extra stamina inside the final furlong to hold off Awesome Gem at the wire.
Game On Dude's only career start at Churchill Downs came in late-April of 2010 when he finished 5th, beaten 19 ½ lengths in the Grade 3 Derby Trial. That race came over a muddy and sealed main track and was at a distance (one-turn mile) that probably isn't his best. He's never finished worse than 4th in any start since that race.
Goodwood video (via BCWorldChampionships YouTube page)
The post position draw for the 2011 Breeders' Cup will take place on Monday, Oct. 31st at 1pm Eastern. You can follow the draw at SB Nation's horse racing community, And Down The Stretch They Come. If you're new to the Breeders' Cup and want to know more about the event, check out A Beginner's Guide to the Breeders' Cup.