Game On Dude heads field for Hollywood Gold Cup

Game on DudeGame On Dude will make another try on Saturday to win the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup after finishing second last year to stablemate First Dude by a nose. The five-year-old gelding will face six challengers in the 1 1/4 mile race on Hollywood Park’s synthetic main track.

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The Gold Cup is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race giving the winner a guaranteed spot in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 3 at Santa Anita.

Owned by a partnership that includes Joe Torre’s Diamond Pride Stable, Game On Dude will have Chantal Sutherland again in the saddle. Sutherland could become the first female jockey to win the Gold Cup.

“I haven’t worked him,” Sutherland said,”but I get reports on how he’s doing. I get to ride him, and that’s the fun part. I genuinely love this horse. He recognizes me and he’s like having a dog that wants to please you. 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.”

The Gold Cup will be the gelding’s fourth start of the year and the second since a failed try in the $10 million Dubai World Cup where he finished 12th.

“There were a couple of things about Dubai,” explained Sutherland who had the mount. “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.”

Trained by Bob Baffert, Game On Dude began 2012 with a win in the San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita on Feb. 5. Following a two month break after Dubai he led wire-to-wire to win the Californian five weeks ago by more than seven lengths.

“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,” Sutherland noted.

Game On Dude has earned $2,344,658 in his 17 race career with seven victories.

Baffert, who has won the Gold Cup three times with First Dude, Congaree (2003) and Real Quiet (1999), also has seven-year-old Richard’s Kid entered in the race. Rafael Bejarano has the mount for Saturday’s event.

Owned by Zabeel Racing, Richard’s Kid won the 2009-10 Pacific Classics at Del Mar. Richard’s Kid spent 2011 and the first part of 2012 in Dubai where he had little success. In his first start in the United States since winning the 2010 Goodwood, the veteran runner clobbered the competition by 7 1/4 lengths in the Prove It Stakes on June 8 at Hollywood Park.

Richard’s Kid comes into the Gold Cup with 10 wins in 33 career starts for $1,826,385.

The remaining five horses entered are Kettle Corn, four-year-old filly Love Theway Youare, Anthony’s Cross, Spud Spivens and Thirtyfirststreet.

Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another will be paraded between races Saturday. The appearance will be the last chance for fans to see I’ll Have Another before he begins his life as a stallion in Japan.

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Photo credit: Dave Boylan

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