Game On Dude Tries To Rebound In Native Diver

Racing News
Posted 11.28.12 at 11:16

Chantal Sutherland guides Game On Dude to victory in the Hollywood Gold Cup. © Benoit Photo

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (November 28, 2012)—Game On Dude, who won the Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup July 7, will try for his third win in four local starts in the $250,000 Native Diver Stakes – Presented by the Oak Tree Racing Association – Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park.

A Grade III at 1 1/8 miles over Cushion Track, the Native Diver is the fourth of 10 races. Post time is 12:30 p.m. Track gates will open at 10 a.m. for simulcasts.

The Pick Six pool is guaranteed at $150,000, as it has been and will continue to be every Saturday throughout the Autumn meet. Should the pool reach $200,000, Happy Hour food and drink specials will be available at Whittingham’s Pub. The average pool size through the first three weeks of the season was $237,454.

Additionally, a single winning Pick Six ticket –purchased either at Betfair Hollywood Park or through Television Games Network (TVG) – will earn a bonus – a 2013 Toyota Prius courtesy of Toyota of Orange.

Owned by Joe Torre’s Diamond Pride LLC, Lanni Family Trust, Ernie Moody’s Mercedes Stable LLC and Bernie Schiappa and trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, Game On Dude will be trying to rebound from a subpar performance in the Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 3 at Santa Anita.

The 13-10 favorite in the Grade I, Game On Dude lost position early after an eventful start and never threatened, finishing seventh, 15 lengths behind upset winner Fort Larned.

A winner of nine of 21 with earnings of $2,994,658, the 5-year-old Awesome Again gelding out of the Devil His Due mare Worldly Pleasure could become the sixth horse to win both the Gold Cup and the Native Diver. Mast Track was the last to accomplish the double, winning the 2008 Gold Cup and the Native Diver some 17 months later.

Hall of Famer Mike Smith will become the third different rider for Game On Dude in a span of four races. He replaces Rafael Bejarano, who took over for the now-retired Chantal Sutherland.

A win by Game On Dude would be the second in the race for Baffert, who has an Autumn meet leading three stakes victories. General Challenge scored for the trainer in 1999.

Second behind Game On Dude in the Gold Cup when still trained by Baffert, Richard’s Kid will be seeking his first win in his fourth start since joining the Doug O’Neill stable.

Owned by a partnership that includes Dave Kenney, Triple B Farms and Westside Rentals.com, Richard’s Kid finished fifth in the BC Classic, seven lengths in front of Game On Dude.

This effort came on the heels of consecutive third place finishes in the Grade I Pacific Classic Aug. 26 at Del Mar and the Grade I Awesome Again Sept. 29 at Santa Anita.

A 7-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid out of the Broad Brush mare Tough Broad, Richard’s Kid has won 11 of 38 and banked $2,286,385. He’s won twice in four races over Cushion Track.

A victory by Richard’s Kid would be the third for O’Neill in the Native Diver. He won with Sky Jack (2000) and Slew’s Tizzy (2008).

Defending champion Kettle Corn will aim for his second win of the meet when he returns to the main track for owner Lee and Susan Searing’s C R K Stable and trainer John Sadler.

A winner by a neck as the even-money favorite in a $57,008 allowance on turf Nov. 8, Kettle Corn will try to become the first two time winner of the Native Diver.

Never worse than third in five races over Cushion Track, Kettle Corn, a 5-year-old Candy Ride horse out of the Lil E. Tee mare Somethingbeautiful, has won seven of 19 and banked $364,111.

The last trainer to go back-to-back in the Native Diver was Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, who won three in a row – Gentlemen (1996), Refinado Tom (1997) and Puerto Madero (1998).

Nonios, who won the Grade III Affirmed Handicap June 3 during the Spring/Summer meet, will attempt to become the first 3-year-old to win the Native Diver since Momentum in 2001.

Trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer for owner Green B. Smith, Jr., the son of Pleasantly Perfect out of the Touch Gold mare Stylish Manner is 3-for-9 with earnings of $409,000. He has lost five in a row since his surprise at nearly 16-1 in the Affirmed, but was second in a pair of Grade I’s – behind Paynter the Haskell Invitational July 29 at Monmouth Park and Game On Dude in the Awesome Again.

Make Music for Me returns from a layoff of more than six months for trainer Alexis Barba and owners Ellen and Peter O. Johnson, Sr.

Away since a 3 ¼ length allowance win on turf May 19, the 5-year-old Bernstein horse out of the Carson City mare Miss Cheers will be trying for his first win in his ninth race over a synthetic surface.

Yet to finish better than third in three races over Cushion Track, Make Music for Me has won four of 26 and earned $529,100.

From inside out, the field for the 34th Native Diver Stakes: Game On Dude, Mike Smith rides, 124 pounds; Richard’s Kid, Rafael Bejarano, 119; Make Music for Me, Tyler Baze, 117; Nonios, Martin Pedroza, 119 and Kettle Corn, Garrett Gomez, 119.

The supporting feature Saturday is the $65,000 Skillful Joy Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs on turf. It will go as the third race. The field of eight is topped by 124-pound high weight Reneesgotzip and Byrama.

Owned by Lanni Family Trust and trained by Peter Miller, Reneesgotzip finished third behind Mizdirection and Unbridled’s Note in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint Nov. 3 at Santa Anita. The City Zip filly out of the Distorted Humor filly No Dress Code has won four of eight and banked $413,600.

Trained by Simon Callaghan for Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Byrama has won four of 13 and earned $234,634. The English bred daughter of Byron and the Darshaan mare Aymara won the Manhattan Beach June 9 at the Skillful Joy distance.

From inside out, the field for the Skillful Joy: Byrama, Rafael Bejarano rides, 121 pounds; Reneesgotzip, Garrett Gomez, 124; Minds Eyes, Mike Smith, 121; Belle Passe, Joe Talamo, 121; Forbidden City, Tyler Baze, 121; Curvy Cat, Corey Nakatani, 121; Nechez Dawn, Edwin Maldonado, 121 and Eileen’s Dream, Martin Garcia, 119.

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