Thursday, February 28, 2013

Game On, Dudes

The horse who has the most appeal outside of Royal Delta this year is Game On Dude. He makes his second start of the year in two days in the other big Saturday of the spring—the Santa Anita Handicap, The Big Cap.

Game On Dude, or, as I like to call him, GOD, won the Big Cap two years ago under an umbrella of controversy (he was practically at a 45-degree angle with the dirt when he collided with Twirling Candy. Unbelievable). You remember it, right? Chantel Sutherland came over and collided with Twirling Candy (subsequently dominoeing Setsuko).

There was a long, long inquiry, then GOD and Sutherland were awarded the win vaulting GOD to that upper tier of handicap horses and giving Sutherland the most iconic win of her short pre-TVG career. (As an aside, this race will go down as a Top Ten for the decade for the impact of Sutherland getting the win and how GOD just wouldn’t give in.)

The long meandering road of a 6-year-old Grade 1-winner is a sight to behold. At three he was fourth in the Belmont Stakes, losing to the ultimate wet blanket and buzz kill Drosselmeyer, trained by Bill Mott. Drosselmeyer is German for “not fun”, as in, awe, man, wmcorrow is in the comments again? He’s so drosselmeyer. True story.

At age four he won the Big Cap, the Goodwood and nearly won the Breeders’ Cup Classic when he lost to the ultimate wet blanket and buzz kill Drosselmeyer. It was jockey Mike Smith versus his old squeeze Sutherland at the wire. Sutherland lost the mount on GOD in late 2012 before she unexpectedly retired in the fall. A total drosselmeyer.

Guess who has the mount on GOD now. Mike Smith. S&S can’t get out of each other's way. Either that or California racing is as incestuous middle Appalachia.

GOD was an impressive winner of the San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita on Super Bowl Sunday, but not as impressive as Bob Baffert, his trainer, would have it. Knowing GOD runs well fresh—he hadn’t run since December 1 when he won the Native Diver Stakes—Baffert wanted a more relaxing win against three other rivals in the San Antonio.

"He grabbed himself a little bit on the ankle coming away from there, but it looked pretty superficial," Baffert told the Blood-Horse or the Santa Anita press department. I pulled it from Blood-Horse, so there you are. "The horse runs well fresh. I really didn't want to run that fast early. I wanted him to cruise around there. I wanted a Flashback kind of a win (referring to Flashback's easy win in last Saturday's Robert B. Lewis Stakes). We'll see how it takes its toll on him, but he ran a good race."

Frankly, I would have much rather have watched GOD’s race than the Ray-vens. Ugh. But you can’t host a party featuring the San Antonio. Or you could. But it would be a total drosselmeyer.

GOD will carry a high-weight of 126 pounds Saturday when he challenges another classic winner; Ron the Greek, trained by Bill Mott. Ron the Greek is the most recent winner of the Big Cap which makes it all the more confusing why he carries 122 pounds versus GOD’s 126.

“Every time I run against those good horses, they beat me,” Baffert said. “My horse is a tough little horse, but Ron the Greek’s tough, too.”

GOD has never won carrying more than 124 pounds, especially tough for a horse who likes to do most of his running on the front end.

The handicap division, at least in my opinion, starts to get serious with the Big Cap. They’re all running up a mountain at this point and GOD can be the first up Sinai, followed closely by the Donn winner

Graydar was an impressive winner of the Donn. I was really hoping race caller Larry Collmus was going to say, “Graydar goes all the way-dar.” But he stopped just short of an awesome, maybe world-changing pun, opting for the more socially appropriate, “Graydar goes all the way.”

We’ve never been about social appropriate-ness here at the Carryover. No doubt a big reason we don’t get invited to go places like coffee dates, Super Bowl parties, or pancake breakfasts at the local ladder. I’ll take my bad puns and bourbon-swilling solitude. Drosselmeyer??

Though GOD is partly owned by Joe Torre, former Yankees manager and sempiternal thorn for Red Sox fans, I’m rooting for GOD.

I hear he’s good to have on your side.

Twitter up.

Written by Brendan O'Meara

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BallHype: hype it up!

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