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Game On Dude takes spotlight in Charles Town Classic

April 19, 2013

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — With his devastating 7 3/4-length victory last month in the historic Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap, Game On Dude served notice that at age 6, he remains perhaps the top racehorse in the country.

Game On Dude’s Hall of Fame trainer, Bob Baffert, has never shown an aversion to the spotlight — or big-time opportunities — and Saturday night, he will send out the fleet gelding to chase one of the richest prizes in racing, the Grade 2, $1.5 million Charles Town Classic at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races.

A California-based son of Awesome Again, Game On Dude will face six others, including multiple Grade 1 winner Ron the Greek and defending champion Caixa Eletronica, in the fifth running of the 1 1/8-mile Classic, which boasts a purse surpassed in the United States only by the Kentucky Derby and the races of the Breeders’ Cup.

Post time for the Classic is 10:30 p.m., with a first-race post of 5 p.m. HRTV will televise the race.

The Classic purse was increased from $1 million to $1.5 million for 2013, and Baffert couldn’t wait to take another shot at the race.

Game On Dude finished second to Duke of Mischief in 2011 on a rainy night over a sloppy track. Since then, he has won eight graded stakes.

Game On Dude, owned by Hall of Fame baseball player and manager Joe Torre in partnership with several others, has won 12 of 24 lifetime starts and earned more than $3.7 million.

“He’s doing great; he’s happy,” Baffert said earlier this week. He worked (Sunday) very well — five-eighths (of a mile) in 59 3/5 seconds. He’s really sharp right now. This is the second time we’ve been there. It’s $1.5 million race, and it’s easier to get there than Dubai (for the World Cup).”

After the victory in the Big Cap, Baffert said he was shopping for another big race for Game On Dude. Choosing the Charles Town Classic over the Oaklawn Handicap was not that difficult.

“When you put up $1.5 million, it’s like the Breeders’ Cup,” Baffert said.

Another Hall of Famer, jockey Mike Smith, will ride Game On Dude for the fourth straight time. The Classic, however, will be Smith’s first outing on the horse on a six-furlong oval.

“I asked Mike, ‘Do you want to ride the bull ring?’” Baffert said. “He said, ‘Hell, yeah! I grew up on bull rings, and I can still do it.’”

Game On Dude’s forte is speed, and he likely will be on or near the lead. Defending Classic winner Caixa Eletronica, however, is as versatile as any horse in the country and could be anywhere in the race, making the pace or playing the closer.

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— Information provided by Hollywood Casino at Charles Town.

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