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Jul 06, 2012

Up the Backstretch: Baffert packing double-barrel shot for Gold Cup

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

(Sports Network) - Trainer Bob Baffert will go into Saturday's $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup with a two pronged attack that will be difficult to defeat. The Hall of Fame conditioner will send out 2011 Gold Cup runner-up Game On Dude and two-time Pacific Classic champ Richard's Kid in the 1 1/4 mile race.

Game On Dude, third in the current NTRA Poll, is rated the favorite in the seven horse field. Second to another Baffert horse in last year's Gold Cup, Game On Dude is the 124 pound highweight, four more than stablemate Richard's Kid.

Both horses are each coming off 7 1/4 length victories in their most recent starts in early June. Game On Dude walloped the competition in the Californian and Richard's Kid ran away to win the Prove it Stakes.

"His last race (Californian) was so easy. I think I raised my stick and put it in my left hand, but that's all I did," Chantal Sutherland noted about the Californian victory

Co-owned by Joe Torre, Game On Dude drew post six with Sutherland again in the saddle. In the last seven races together, Game On Dude and Sutherland have three wins and a pair of seconds. Their only off the board finish was 12th in this year's Dubai World Cup.

"There were a couple of things about Dubai," explained Sutherland. "I think the humidity had a lot to do with his poor performance. As a runner, I know that when you go from a climate like we have here and try to jog where there's a lot of humidity, you sweat so much more. The electrolytes and everything are different. It takes them a while to adjust. It's a lot easier on them when they come back to this kind of environment."

Last year in the Gold Cup, Game on Dude lost by a nose to First Dude after setting the early pace. The jockey and horse were also second in last year's Breeders' Cup Classic to longshot winner Drosselmeyer.

"I genuinely love this horse. He recognizes me and he's like having a dog that wants to please you," Sutherland noted. "He's a very sensitive horse. When I go to ride him, the first part of the race I stay quiet. When I get to the quarter pole or have to make a move, he pins his ears, puts his head down and he just knows. I just think go and he goes."

Richard's Kid will break from post two with Rafael Bejarano getting his second straight ride on the seven-year-old. The veteran of 33 career starts won the Prove It Stakes last month after spending all of 2011 and the first part of 2012 in Dubai.

In five starts on the Arabian peninsula Richard's Kid could do no better than a single fourth-place finish this past March after earning nothing last year.

Owned by Zabeel Racing, Richard's Kid is best known for winning the Pacific Classic in 2009 and 2010. A victory on Saturday would put him past the $2 million mark in lifetime earnings.

The winner of the Gold Cup earns a spot in this year's $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park. Post-time is set for 8:10 p.m. (ET).

From the rail out here is the field for the 73rd Hollywood Gold Cup: Love Theway Youare, Alonso Quinonez; Richard's Kid, Rafael Bejarano; Kettle Corn, Garrett Gomez; Spud Spivens, Victor Espinoza; Anthony's Cross, Kerwin John; Game On Dude, Chantal Sutherland and Thirtyfirststreet, Eswan Flores.

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