After a 12th place finish in the Dubai World Cup, Game On Dude was back on his game with a front-running victory in the Grade 2 Californian at Betfair Hollywood Park. The win was never in doubt as Game On Dude set easy fractions early on and sprinted to an easy 7 1/4 length win. The victory will send Game On Dude to the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup as the likely favorite.
Game On Dude was returning from a two month layoff after an unsuccessful trip to Dubai that also resulted in his trainer, Bob Baffert, being hospitalized for a heart attack. The win proved to be redemption as a healthy Baffert looked on as his 5-year-old son of Awesome Again could not have been more impressive. "On the backside, I didn't move a muscle... He relaxed sweet and then he just took off." said jockey Chantal Sutherland. The win was the seventh stakes win for leading trainer Baffert at the current meet.
The race was supposed to be a match race between Game On Dude and Morning Line, but that only materialized for a half mile. Morning Line, ridden by Joe Talamo, could not keep up to the frontrunner and was under heavy pressure around the far turn. Kettle Corn, trained by John Sadler, finished second followed by Prayer For Relief, also trained by Baffert. Morning Line finished last in the field of four.
One of the many co-owners in the group for Game On Dude is former Los Angeles Dodgers manager, Joe Torre. Torre was on hand at Betfair Hollywood Park and received the trophy for the Grade 2 Californian.
The final time for the 1 1/8 mile race was 1:48.01, the winner Game On Dude paid $4.00 to win.
Bob Baffert said, "Chantal gets along with him really well. He really likes her. That's why she's riding him. The Hollywood Gold Cup is the next step." The Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup is scheduled for Saturday, July 7 at Betfair Hollywood Park.