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Jan 20, 2004

Pacific Classic headed by Game On Dude


Del Mar, CA (Sports Network) - Leading thoroughbred Game On Dude heads a field of 10 for Sunday's $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar. The 1 1/4 mile test will have a post-time of 8:20 p.m. (ET).

Unable to defend last year's Pacific Classic win is Acclamation. The Eclipse Award winner is sidelined indefinitely with a left front ankle injury.

The Classic is a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" race giving an automatic spot in the Breeders' Cup Classic to the winner.

Game On Dude, first in the NTRA Poll, is the 5-2 morning line favorite and will break from post nine with Chantal Sutherland riding. The five-year-old gelding is the top half of trainer Bob Baffert's race entry with Jaycito.

Sunday's start will be Game On Dude's first race since winning the Hollywood Gold Cup over former stablemate Richard's Kid on July 7. Richard's Kid was recently sold and moved from Baffert's barn.

"It's no lie that Richard's Kid made a big move on me in that last race," Sutherland said during a conference call on Tuesday, "so I've got to make sure I've got fuel in the tank to fight him off if he comes at me. So I've just got to be aware of everything, still ride my race, still do what I do on Game On Dude, but I've just got to be really focused."

Co-owned by Joe Torre, Game On Dude is the winner of eight of his 18 career starts for more than $2.6 million. Last year he finished fourth to Acclamation in the Classic but followed by winning the Goodwood and placing second to Drosselmeyer in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

This year Game On Dude won the San Antonio at Santa Anita before finishing 12th in the Dubai World Cup. He returned to win both the Californian and Hollywood Gold Cup.

Richard's Kid will try to add a third Pacific Classic victory to go along with his 2009 and 2010 triumphs. The seven-year-old horse is the 7-2 second choice and will be ridden by Victor Espinoza from post three

Previously owned by Zabeel Racing, Richard's Kid was sold last week to a group led by Triple B Farms. He was transferred from Bob Baffert to trainer Doug O'Neill. However, O'Neill is serving a 40-day suspension and his longtime assistant Leandro Mora will take charge of Richard's Kid.

"The plan is to run him in the Pacific Classic, then look at our options concerning the Breeders' Cup," Mora said.

Richard's Kid has won two of three starts this year, including the Cougar II Handicap last month at Del Mar. He made five starts in Dubai over a 12 month period beginning in March of last year without a victory.

"He was in different hands over there," noted Mora. "We think he'll respond well to the O'Neill program."

A veteran of 35 starts, Richard's Kid has 11 wins with earnings of just under $2 million.

Rail Trip will try to join Skimming as the only horses to win both the San Diego Handicap and Pacific Classic in the same year. Skimming did it twice in 2000 and 2001.

Trained by Ron Ellis, Rail Trip will start from the inside post with Jose Valdivia Jr. in the saddle. The seven-year-old gelding is owned by Jay Em Ess Stable and is 10-1 in the program

"He came out of the last race well and he's doing fine," Ellis said.

Rail Trip's 20 race career is highlighted by his 2009 Hollywood Gold Cup win. The following year he finished second in the race behind Awesome Gem.

In his first two 2012 starts, both at Hollywood Park, the horse was fourth in the Los Angeles Handicap and second in an allowance race. With nine wins and six seconds, Rail Trip has banked better than $1.25 million.

Here is the field from the rail out for the 22nd Pacific Classic: Rail Trip, Jose Valdivia Jr., 10-1; Amani, Garrett Gomez, 5-1; Richard's Kid, Victor Espinoza, 7-2; Where's Sterling, Paco Lopez, 15-1; Dullahan, Joel Rosario, 6-1; Akkadian, Martin Garcia, 20-1; Jaycito, Rafael Bejarano, 12-1; Suggestive Boy, Joe Talamo, 5-1; Game On Dude, Chantal Sutherland, 5-2 and Riveting Reason, David Flores, 30-1.

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