|(Breeders' Cup Classic) Game On Dude freshened up for title
Game On Dude, (pictured), twice disappointed in the Breeders' Cup Classic, was made the early 8-5 favorite Monday for the marquee race on the US$27 million Breeders' Cup slate in Arcadia in the US.
The six-year-old gelding trained by Bob Baffert drew the ninth post in the 12-horse field for the US$5 million, 1 1/4-mile Classic, which will be run on the dirt track at Santa Anita Park Saturday, AFP reports.
Baffert said he was happy with the post position.
“I didn't want him to be buried on the inside,'' Baffert said. “The field is strong. It's so competitive.''
The 14 races in the two flat racing extravaganza feature 71 Group One or Grade One stakes winners and eight 2012 Breeders' Cup champions.
That includes Fort Larned, back to defend his 2012 Classic title, and two-time defending Distaff winner Royal Delta.
In the US$2 million Mile, US Horse of the Year Wise Dan goes for a second straight title on Santa Anita's turf track.
Game On Dude has won 15 of 27 starts and earned US$5.6 million but the Classic has not been kind to him.
As the 13-10 favorite last year he failed to fire and finished seventh and in 2011 he was run down in the stretch by 14-1 shot Drosselmeyer.
Baffert says he has changed the six-year-old's schedule in a bid to keep him fresh for another Classic tilt.
“I've managed him a little different to bring in a fresher horse,'' Baffert said. ``In his performances this year, he's just kept it going. He's run some outstanding races and he doesn't show any sign of tailing off.''
Game on Dude's challengers include European raiders Planteur, trained by England-based Italian Marco Botti, and Declaration of War, trained by Ireland's Aidan O'Brien and ridden by O'Brien's son Joseph O'Brien.
Like Planteur, Declaration of War started his career in France before being bought by O'Brien's retainers Coolmore Stud and this year has been transformed winning two Group Ones.
He has won on a synthetic track, perhaps an indication that he can thrive on the dirt in the United States. Declaration of War was priced at 10-1 after drawing the fifth post.
Fort Larned drew the seventh posted and was priced at 6-1. Last year's runner-up, Mucho Macho Man, will break from the sixth post and was listed at 5-1.
Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice was priced at 10-1 after drawing the eighth post.
The Distaff, again being called by its original name after being dubbed the Ladies' Classic since 2008, features a field of just six but all boast impressive resumes.
Royal Delta was made the early 8-5 favourite ahead of 9-5 second choice Princess of Sylmar, who has won six stakes races this year.
Last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Beholder was installed as the early third choice at 5-2.
“It's not a very big field, but it's very good,'' Beholder's trainer Richard Mandella said. ``She's going to have to be at her best for it.''