Ridden by Rafael Bejarano in both the Awesome Again and Breeders’ Cup Classic, Mike Smith took over for the first time in Betfair Hollywood Park’s Native Diver.
“I know this horse is brave, so I just put him where I thought I had to,” said Smith. “The key for me was to win…He won pretty much within himself.”
When asked about tactics for Sunday’s San Antonio, Smith indicated that he intends to keep things simple.
“Stay out of his way,” is how Smith summed up his approach. “Things can happen in short fields, as we all know. Everyone knows where everyone’s at. Each rider can kind of sit there and make it a sprint for home, but Game On Dude’s a naturally quick horse and has a great cruising speed.
“I’m just going to let him do his thing, and I’d do that even if it was a bigger field. We’ve just got to get away well and get him in a place where he can do what he does best, and that’s run. That’s my job, anyway. Hopefully, he does the rest.”
A winner of the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap in 2011 with Chantal Sutherland aboard, Game On Dude, a 6-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding by Awesome Again, is trained by Bob Baffert and owned by Joe Torre’s Diamond Pride LLC, the Lanni Family Trust, Bernard Schiappa and Mercedes Stable.
Game On Dude is 7-5-1-0 at a mile and one eighth and his overall mark is 22-10-5-1, with earnings of $3,132,158.
Though Game On Dude may be committed to a front-running game plan, Jerry Hollendorfer’s Chosen Miracle could occupy that position. A hard-knocking sprinter on turf, the 5-year-old by Ghostzapper stretched out for a gate to wire win at 1 1/16 miles on turf on Dec. 8 and employed similar tactics when third, beaten 3 ¼ lengths in the Grade II San Gabriel Stakes going 1 1/8 miles on turf Jan. 13.
Chosen Miracle’s lone main track win came in his debut over a sloppy track going six furlongs at Hawthorne Racecourse on April 19, 2011.
With two wins on turf and one on synthetic, Chosen Miracle’s overall mark stands at 11-4-3-2. Owned by Abruzzo or Carver, he has earnings of $175,744.
Trainer Craig Lewis will send out Clubhouse Ride, who like Chosen Miracle, was also entered to run in Saturday’s Grade II Arcadia Stakes at one mile on turf. Clubhouse Ride comes off a good second-place finish from off the pace in a tough third-condition allowance going a mile on grass Jan. 10. It’s expected Aaron Gryder will again take him back early in the San Antonio.
Owned by Six-S Racing Stable and Niko Petralia, Clubhouse Ride has earnings of $429,620 from a record of 24-3-5-8.
Make Music for Me makes his third start off a freshening in the San Antonio and will try to regenerate some of the luster he generated as a Kentucky Derby hopeful three years ago. Trained by Alexis Barba, the Kentucky-bred horse by Bernstein was a sharp gate to wire winner three starts back on May 12, when he beat a classified allowance field going 1 1/8 miles on turf by 3 ¼ lengths.
Given the speed that’s expected from Game On Dude and Chosen Miracle, Make Music for Me figures to get a stalking trip on Sunday under Martin Garcia. Owned by Ellen and Peter O. Johnson, Make Music for Me has a mark of 28-4-3-3 and earnings of $540,400.
Second in the Grade III Delta Jackpot as a 2-year-old, Doug O’Neill’s Basmati pressed the pace and was well beaten in the opening day Grade I Malibu at seven furlongs. One race prior to that, he was prompt allowance winner going seven furlongs on Nov. 2, his first start since running poorly in the Grade I CashCall Futurity in December, 2011.
Owned by Zillah Reddam, Basmati, a 4-year-old colt by Borrego, is 10-2-3-1, with earnings of $321,050. He’ll be ridden for the third consecutive time by Mario Gutierrez.
The San Antonio Stakes, which will be run as the seventh race on an eight-race program Sunday, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Clubhouse Ride, Aaron Gryder, 118; Game On Dude, Mike Smith, 123; Make Music for Me, Martin Garcia, 118, Chosen Miracle, Joe Talamo, 118, and Basmati, Mario Gutierrez, 118.
There will be a special early first post time on “Big Game” Sunday of 11 a.m. Approximate post time for the San Antonio is 2 p.m.