MIKE SMITH, GAME ON DUDE, Winner: “He had a little hiccup coming out of the gate. He was squatting a little. I have a couple of ideas maybe we’ll try (next time). The idea was just to stay out of his way. (Jockey) Martin (Pedroza) secured the lead (on Nonios) and if he wanted it going at a decent pace, I was going to let him have it. But he didn’t really go on and I was determined to stick him in there. I know this horse is brave, so I just put him where I thought I had to. He handled the track well. The key for me was to win, and if I could win without gutting him, it would be really good. I wanted to see if he’d fight, he acted like he would in the mornings, and he certainly did in the afternoon. He won pretty much within himself.”
MARTIN PEDROZA, NONIOS, Second: “I knew I couldn’t let the other horse get away or my horse wouldn’t have any chance. He would have won by 10 lengths. It was pretty tight on the first turn, but that’s just horse racing. I figured nobody else was going and that was his only chance.’’
GARRETT GOMEZ, KETTLE CORN, Third: “He looks for reasons to do everything wrong. He’s not the easiest horse to ride. They try to load him early because this year he’s started being a little bad in the gate. I tried to get my horse away from there as best as I could get him off his feet. He actually came out of there well, but in the second and third jump he just went ‘Boop’ and stuck (his feet) in the ground.”
BOB BAFFERT, GAME ON DUDE, Winner: “I thought Nonios would be the horse to beat in here. I figured (jockey Martin) Pedroza would try to get aggressive with him. I saw Pedroza go over there and I thought he was going to get in `Dude’s psyche a little bit, maybe try to cut him off or get him off his heels. That’s one of the reasons we put Mike (Smith) on him, because when you’re a heavy favorite you can go ahead and get aggressive on him. Sometimes you have to go for broke. But I think if Martin had gone on, he could have laid second. But that’s when he slowed down a little bit and Mike went ahead and went for it. I saw Nonios making that move on the (final) turn and was coming back on, I said ‘Whoa,’ because this track is pretty demanding. But then he cut back in and he wasn’t really tired when he got back. It’s just a shame that he ran great races all year long and had a bad trip in the Breeders’ Cup. But it’s a new day today.”
JERRY HOLLENDORFER, NONIOS, Second: “I told (Pedroza) to get the horse out of the gate and on his way, that’s all I can do.”
Notes: The win was the second for Baffert in the Native Diver. He also won with General Challenge in 1999…Baffert has an Autumn meet high four stakes wins…Game On Dude’s win price of $2.60 was the smallest in Native Diver history. Twilight Agenda paid $2.80 when he won in 1991.
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