AWESOME AGAIN STAKES | PURSE: $250,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 1 | 1 1/8-Miles
Game On Dude maintained his perfect record at Santa Anita Park with a smooth victory in the $250,000 Awesome Again Stakes Sept, 29, a perfect tuneup for his return to the Breeders' Cup Classic over his favorite track.
Trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Rafael Bejarano teamed to win their third grade I race of the day with 1-5 favorite Game On Dude. It followed grade I tallies by Executiveprivilege in the Chandelier Stakes and Power Broker in the FrontRunner Stakes.
"With the performances today, we were really happy with all of them," Baffert said. "Good preparation. Next month is when the real work starts. I'm just glad they all showed up today."
Bejarano replaced Chantal Sutherland, who had ridden Game On Dude in his past 10 races.
Game On Dude atoned for a half-length defeat in the Pacific Classic (gr. I) last month with his open-length decision in a race renamed this year for his sire, Awesome Again . Previously known as the Goodwood, it was a "Win & You're In" event for the Breeders' Cup Classic, a berth Game On Dude had already secured by winning the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) July 7.
Owned by Bernie Schiappa, Joe Torre's Diamond Pride, and the Lanni Family Trust, 5-year-old Game On Dude is now 5-for-5 on the Santa Anita main track.
While never seriously challenging the winner in the stretch, 3-year-old Nonios finished up encouragingly to be second, with Richard's Kid rallying belatedly to nip Rail Trip for third.