Horse of the Year hopeful Game On Dude recorded his final major workout before the November 2 Breeders' Cup Classic on Tuesday, drilling six furlongs in a bullet 1:11 2/5 over the fast track at Santa Anita. Martin Garcia was up for the work, but Mike Smith will take the reins in the $5 million Classic.
Will the third time be the charm for Game On Dude? The six-year-old gelding finished second in the 2011 Classic at Churchill Downs but wound up a disappointing seventh as the 7-5 favorite last year, sustaining his lone setback in eight starts at Santa Anita.
The Bob Baffert-trained son of Awesome Again rebounded nicely from last year's Classic defeat, compiling a perfect mark from five starts while enjoying a career-best season in 2013, and Game On Dude figures to be a heavy favorite once again in the 1 1/4-mile Classic. Baffert did make one interesting change in scheduling, skipping the September 28 Awesome Again after winning it the past two years.
Game On Dude has thrived with time between starts this year and will enter the Classic off of a nine-week freshening, capturing the August 25 Pacific Classic by an 8 1/2-length margin in his final prep race.
Beholder, last year's champion two-year-old filly and one of three major contenders in the Distaff, posted a sharp work in advance of her engagement next Friday, motoring seven furlongs in 1:24 2/5 with jockey Gary Stevens.
Trained by Richard Mandella, Beholder is five for six at Santa Anita including an impressive victory over older rivals in her last start, the Grade 1 Zenyatta on September 28. She has trained forwardly since then, working five furlongs in a blistering :58 3/5 last week, and the speedy filly will likely be the one to catch in a deep Distaff field that includes Princess of Sylmar and Royal Delta.
Baffert sent out a few other Breeders' Cup prospects on Tuesday.
Tap It Rich, who figures to be well-supported in the Juvenile following an impressive 4 1/4-length debut win on October 12, worked a half-mile in :47 4/5.
Grade 1 winners Book Review and Executiveprivilege, both candidates for the Filly & Mare Sprint, went five furlongs in 1:00 1/5 and 1:00 2/5, respectively.