Jockey upgrade to ensure Game On Dude wins Breeders’ Cup Classic
Game On Dude may be a short price to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic at 7/4, but there are more than a handful of reasons why he will be exceptionally tough to beat.
The most obvious is his love of the Santa Anita dirt, winning on all five career starts at the circuit and racing at the track is almost like having home advantage.
No other horse entered in the Classic has this much experience of the track and only two – Richard’s Kid and Ron The Greek – have previously tasted success at Santa Anita and this is just once each.
Meanwhile, there is a distinct lack of a superstar in the field and by Breeders’ Cup Classic standards the line-up is not particularly inspiring.
It certainly seems weaker than 12 months ago when Game On Dude was caught close home by the fast-finishing Drosselmeyer.
This was the first real upset in the race since 2003 with Drosselmeyer sent off at 20/1 and in general those towards the head of the market tend to land the spoils.
In fact, seven of the last eight winners have come from the first four in the betting and the favourite is certainly due a win, given that only one has triumphed in the last decade.
Also last year, jockey Chantal Sutherland failed to judge the pace right, setting off too quickly in the early stages in order to ensure a strong gallop, which in turn left Game On Dude running on empty in the final furlong.
She was breaking from stall seven on this occasion and wanted to get to the running rail, life should be a bit easier in this respect this year as Game On Dude has been drawn in stall five.
Another criticism of Sutherland was that she took up the running too early in the Pacific Classic Stakes Group One earlier this season, again being caught in the closing stages.
This resulted in trainer Bob Baffert dumping Sutherland in favour of Rafael Bejarano and this paid dividends when Game On Dude enjoyed his easiest success in recent memory on his latest outing.
Bejarano waited a little longer before pushing the button and this patience will be key in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Throw in that he should not have to work too hard to take the early initiative with a lack of front-runners in the field, Game On Dude can secure an uncontested lead and as the best horse in the race, the onus is fully on Bejarano to time his finishing spurt right, something which Sutherland failed to do more than once.
This should also help ease any concerns over Game On Dude staying 1m2f, having only won on two of his seven career starts over the trip.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.