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Aug 23, 2013

Pacific Classic has Game On Dude versus defending champ Dullahan


Del Mar, CA (Sports Network) - Game On Dude, last year's defeated favorite, is out to finally claim victory in Sunday's $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar despite the presence of defending winner Dullahan,

Last year, Game On Dude was caught at the wire by Dullahan in the 1 1/4-mile event one year after the gelding was fourth in the race behind Acclamation.

Trained by Bob Baffert, Game On Dude will be ridden for the first time by this year's leading jockey Joel Rosario. The pair will break from post 11 in the 13-horse field.

Rosario won last year's race aboard Dullahan, but moves over to Game On Dude whose regular jockey Mike Smith will be in Saratoga to ride Royal Delta in the Personal Ensign. Rosario won this year's Dubai World Cup aboard Animal Kingdom and Kentucky Derby with Orb.

Game On Dude, partly owned by Joe Torre, won the Hollywood Gold Cup in his most recent start to go along with wins this year in the San Antonio Stakes, Santa Anita Handicap and Charles Town Classic.

A win Sunday, Game On Dude would join Lava Man as the only horses to win the Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup and Pacific Classic the same year.

In 26 career starts, Game On Dude has won 14 times and banked $5,002,158.

Baffert will also saddle Liaison in the race with Martin Garcia riding from post 2.

Owned by Arnold Zetcher, Liaison was fifth in the San Diego for his first start in nearly two months. On June 1, he was the defeated even-money favorite in the Californian at Hollywood Park, finishing second to Clubhouse Ride. The colt began 2013 with wins in the Santana Mile and Mervyn LeRoy Handicap.

In 16 lifetime starts, Liaison has five wins for $755,794.

Since pulling off the upset in last year's Classic, Dullahan has not been able to find the winner's circle. The 4-year-old, trained by Dale Romans, will be ridden Sunday by Rafael Bejarano from post 9 in an attempt to repeat.

"Tell the Dude it's GAME ON" was the tweet by the colt's ownership group, Donegal Racing.

Dullahan completed his 2012 season with a fifth in the Jamaica on the turf at Belmont Park and ninth in the Breeders' Cup Turf. This year, the 4-year-old posted a pair of 11th-place finishes in Dubai, but is coming off a third on the grass in the Arlington Handicap.

The colt has banked $1,735,651 with just three wins in 17 career starts.

Here is the complete field in post position order: Endorsement, Julien Leparoux; Liaison, Martin Garcia; Holding Glory, Chantal Sutherland-Kruse; Farraaj, Garrett Gomez; You Know I Know, Edwin Maldonado; Richard's Kid, Joe Talamo; Kettle Corn, Victor Espinoza; Byrama, Gary Stevens; Dullahan, Rafael Bejarano; Delegation, Luis Contreras; Game On Dude, Joel Rosario; Jeranimo, Corey Nakatani and Blueskiesnrainbows, Martin Pedroza.

The Pacific Classic will go off Sunday at approximately 8:45 p.m. (ET).

The race is a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" event. A victory gives the winning horse an automatic spot in the Breeders' Cup Classic on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.

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