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Feb 07, 2014

Up the Backstretch: Game On Dude back for another go-around

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor


 Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The last two years have been examples of great highs and unexpected lows for the people running the career of 7-year-old gelding Game On Dude.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert and owned by several people, including recent baseball Hall of Fame votee Joe Torre, Game On Dude will begin his 2014 campaign in Saturday's San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita Park. It also should be mentioned that the gelding's jockey is another Hall of Fame inductee Mike Smith.

Saturday's start will offer Game On Dude the opportunity to capture a third straight San Antonio as the horse gets ever nearer to $6 million in career earnings. In 2013, Game On Dude began the year by winning the 1 1/8-mile race and proceeded to win his next four starts, including his second Santa Anita Handicap in three years.

However, last year's plummet from the top of the mountain came exactly as in 2012. Game On Dude was again the favorite to win the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita.

Sent off as the 17-10 top choice in the 11-horse field, Game On Dude came up empty down the stretch and finished ninth behind Mucho Macho Man. The year before, he failed and finished seventh as a 13-10 favorite to Ron the Greek.

After failing in the Classic at his home track, Game On Dude traveled to Churchill Downs for the Clark Handicap, where he faced leading 3-year-old colt Will Take Charge, the runner-up in the 1 1/4-mile Classic.

It was a great race between the two combatants. The colt got the head victory over the 6-5 favorite and went on to claim the Eclipse Award as 2013 champion 3-year-old.

So, once again Game On Dude will head to the racetrack to do battle with six other runners on Saturday.

His main competition is expected to come from Blueskiesnrainbows, trained by another member of racing's Hall of Fame, Jerry Hollendorfer.

Blueskiesnrainbows is working on a two-race win streak having won last year's Native Diver and last month's San Pasqual Handicap. Game On Dude won the 2012 Native Diver after losing in the Breeders' Cup.

Both horses like to be on the lead during races. They met last year in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar when Game On Dude won by 8 1/2 lengths with Blueskiesnrainbows finishing last in a 12-horse field.

While Game On Dude races exclusively at major tracks, Blueskiesnrainbows has been sent to second-tier ovals with mixed results. He won the Ralph M. Hinds Handicap at Fairplex after the Pacific Classic, but was a disappointing fifth as the 3-5 favorite in the Bull Dog Handicap at Fresno, The chestnut 5-year- old finished second in the Breeders' Cup Marathon on Nov. 1.

Both Game On Dude and Blueskiesnrainbows are co-highweights for the San Antonio at 123 pounds. How even they are as race horses will be determined on the track Saturday at around 5:30 p.m. ET



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