INGLEWOOD, Calif. (December 16, 2012) — Game On Dude, who rebounded from a subpar performance in the Breeders’ Cup Classic with a win in the $250,000 Native Diver Stakes, was chosen Horse of the Meet in the annual media poll as the Autumn meet concluded Sunday.
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 won the Grade III Native Diver, which was presented by the Oak Tree Racing Association, by 1/14 lengths over a stubborn Nonios Dec. 1.
The victory for the 5-year-old Awesome Again gelding was his third in four tries over Cushion Track, including the Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup during the 2012 Spring/Summer meet.
In addition, Game On Dude, who has won 10 of 22 and earned over $3.1 million, was voted top older male.
Making his first start outside New York, Violence remained undefeated in three starts with a victory in the Grade I, $750,000 CashCall Futurity Dec. 15 and was a unanimous choice as 2-year-old and 2-year-old male.
Supplemented by trainer Ken McPeek after a decisive win at Churchill Downs, Pure Fun was a last-to-first winner of the Grade I, $500,000 Hollywood Starlet Dec. 8 and a unanimous selection as 2-year-old filly.
Other thoroughbreds honored were Grade I, $250,000 Hollywood Derby upsetter Unbridled Command (3-year-old and 3-year-old male), Grade II, $200,000 Bayakoa Stakes winner Lady of Fifty (3-year-old filly), Grade I, $250,000 Matriarch winner Better Lucky (female turf horse), Matriarch runner-up Tiz Flirtatious (older female) and Grade III, $100,000 Vernon O. Underwood winner Smiling Tiger (sprinter).
Grandeur, who won the Grade II, $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup after finishing a troubled second in the Hollywood Derby, was chosen turf horse. A Toe by Three, a 3-year-old Stormello gelding who won twice – over Cushion Track Nov. 23 and turf Dec. 6 – for Doubledown Stables, Inc. and trainer Peter Miller, was selected as claiming horse.
On the human side, Edwin Maldonado won top jockey, defeating Garrett Gomez, who had a meet high five stakes wins, in a close vote.
A native of Puerto Rico, Maldonado, 30, won his first major riding title in Southern California, finishing with 25 winners, one more than Rafael Bejarano.
Baffert was chosen top trainer as he won his third Autumn meet title. He wound up with 17 wins, three more than runner-up John Sadler. Baffert also led with four stakes victories.
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