Sunday, October 28, 2012
Game On Dude works for Classic
Multiple Grade 1 star Game On Dude shored up his early favoritism for the Breeders' Cup Classic with a strong seven-furlong drill in 1:25 over Santa Anita's fast main track Sunday morning.
Under regular rider Rafael Bejarano, the Bob Baffert charge worked in company with Grade 2-winning stablemate Blueskiesnrainbows, who went six furlongs in 1:13 3/5.
"He worked like he's been working right along," Baffert said matter-of-factly of Game On Dude, owned in part by baseball icon Joe Torre. "It was his last workout [before the Classic]. So far, so good.
Game On Dude exits a 3 1/4-length score in the Grade 1 Awesome Again at Santa Anita. The classy gelding was winning that local prep for the second straight year, having captured the 1 1/8-mile test under its former name, the Goodwood, last year.
Runner-up in the 2011 Classic at Churchill Downs, Game On Dude will try to go one better over his home track, where he is a perfect five-for-five.
Game On Dude was one of 12 Baffert horses on Sunday's worktab.
His Juvenile contenders, Power Broker and Title Contender, blitzed five furlongs in a bullet :59 in company. The two Pulpit colts tied for the fastest of 50 moves at the distance.
Bejarano, who rode Power Broker to his 6 1/2-length romp in the Grade 1 FrontRunner (formerly the Norfolk), was aboard for the Sunday work. Title Contender steps up off a sharp maiden win.
Baffert's Sprint duo of Coil and Capital Account traveled a half-mile in :48 1/5 and :48 3/5, respectively. They recently gave Baffert a one-two finish in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship.
Unbeaten Fast Bullet, who is first on the also-eligible list for the Sprint, sped in :48 1/5. If he gets in, the Baffert trainee would be making his stakes debut off a nearly year-long layoff.
Dirt Mile contender Fed Biz went in :48, breezing. The highly-regarded sophomore was knocked off the Triple Crown trail by injury, but returned to take the El Cajon Stakes and last time checked in third in the Grade 2 Indiana Derby.
Grade 1 Acorn and Grade 1 Test heroine Contested sizzled six furlongs in a bullet 1:11 2/5 for the Filly & Mare Sprint. The daughter of Ghostzapper registered the best of 21 trials at the trip.
Baffert later commented on the morning works.
"Coil and Capital Account went really nice; Fast Bullet went real nice, and Power Broker went real nice with Title Contender," the Hall of Famer said.
"Contested worked really fast early, but I didn't think she was going that fast."
Although Baffert was satisfied with his Breeders' Cup team at the moment, he wasn't taking anything for granted.
"A lot can happen in a week," Baffert cautioned.
On Sunday at Churchill Downs, Grade 1 Whitney Handicap winner Fort Larned turned in his final major training move prior to the Classic. The Ian Wilkes trainee breezed a bullet five furlongs in 1:00 2/5, the fastest of 65 at the distance on the fast main track.
Working under exercise rider Kate Merritt, Fort Larned recorded fractions of :24 3/5, :36 2/5 and :48 2/5 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:13 4/5.
"He went really well and I was very pleased with him," Wilkes said.
Fort Larned has won of four of his eight starts this year, including the Grade 3 Skip Away, Grade 3 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap and the aforementioned Whitney Handicap, but Wilkes is hopeful the best is still yet to come.
"I hope we haven't seen the best of him yet," Wilkes said. "The hope is that he'll be at his peak next week."
The four-year-old Fort Larned made his career debut on Churchill's "Stars of Tomorrow II" program during the 2010 fall meet.
"Anytime you lead one of them over, you're hoping it's your next good horse," Wilkes said. "That's what these Stars of Tomorrow programs are all about."