Lone Star Park
|4/24||CD||Derby Trial||Chart||1 mile||5th||65|
|5/08||LS||Lone Star Derby GIII||Chart||1 1/16 miles||1st||95|
Strengths: Few trainer-jockey combinations are hotter than Bob Baffert and Martin Garcia. Their 33 percent win rate the past year (47 for 142 through May 31) includes the Preakness Stakes with Lookin At Lucky. Game On Dude's improving pattern includes a daylight victory in the Grade 3 Lone Star Derby in his last race May 8. That was his second start since moving to the Baffert stable; he is a better horse since changing trainers and enters the Belmont on an upward pattern. The gelding continues to train forwardly, including a sharp six-furlong gate work Monday at Santa Anita in 1:12.40.
Weaknesses: It is uncertain if Game On Dude is good enough. He finished nowhere in the Florida Derby and nowhere in the Derby Trial before he met a dreadful field at Lone Star. Furthermore, his career-best 94 Beyer Speed Figure falls short of par. The past decade, the lowest winning figure in the Belmont was 99. During that time, every Belmont winner previously earned 97 or higher. Young jockey Garcia is a rising star but has never ridden at Belmont.
Strategy: Bold strategy is required. Game On Dude has speed and will be forwardly placed in a field short on pace; First Dude is the only other front-runner. Game On Dude figures to be positioned in the first flight. To win, he must put away his pace rival and open up on the closers. That means committing early by making the lead from the gate, or pulling the trigger on the far turn, even with another three furlongs to the finish.
Value: Recent history suggests there are no toss-outs in the Belmont. Game On Dude is neither fast nor classy enough, similar to Summer Bird ($25.80) in 2009, Da' Tara ($79) in 2008, Birdstone ($74) in 2004, Sarava ($142.50) in 2002, and Commendable ($39.60) in 2000. Considering the improving pattern and hot trainer-jockey combo for Game On Dude, 10-1 or higher might be good enough.
Sire: Breeders' Cup Classic winner Awesome Again gives Game On Dude plenty of stamina. A four-time winner at 1 1/4 miles, Awesome Again earned 10 consecutive triple-digit Beyers, topping out with a 118 Beyer score over Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Dubai World Cup winner Silver Charm in the nine-furlong, Grade 2 Stephen Foster Handicap. A successful stallion, Awesome Again has produced Breeders' Cup Classic winner Ghostzapper, champion older female Ginger Punch, Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Wilko, and Breeders' Cup Distaff heroine Round Pond.
Dam: Game On Dude is the first starter from stakes winner Worldly Pleasure. A winner in 8 of 31 races, Wordly Pleasure's big performance came when she took the Politely Stakes going seven furlongs at Laurel. She won at distances ranging from seven furlongs to 1 1/16 miles. All of the second dam's 10 lifetime wins came in routes. The third dam was multiple stakes placed, while the fifth dam won a division of the historic Test Stakes in 1970.
Outlook: Game On Dude gets a great deal of stamina from his sire, and the dam was certainly capable around two turns. The Belmont distance shouldn't work against him.