Eclipse Award hopeful Game On Dude worked a strong four furlongs at Hollywood Park on Sunday, and afterward trainer Bob Baffert said his seven-time Grade 1 stakes winner would ship to Churchill Downs on Wednesday to compete in Friday's 139th running of the Grade 1, $500,000 Clark Handicap.
Under jockey Martin Garcia, the six-year-old son of Awesome Again went in :48, the sixth-fastest of 53 works at the distance on the Cushion Track.
"He worked nice," Baffert said. "He just cruised around there. We didn't do anything real serious with him, but he looked good doing it. Martin Garcia worked him and said he feels great, so we're coming."
The race will be the first for Game On Dude since a disappointing ninth-place finish behind Mucho Macho Man in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on November 2. The loss was his first in six races in 2013 and snapped a six-race winning streak that included Grade 1 wins in the Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup and the Pacific Classic.
His foes in the Clark Handicap will include Willis D. Horton's Will Take Charge, who was beaten by a nose in the Breeders' Cup Classic. The D. Wayne Lukas-trained winner of the Travers will carry 123 pounds in Friday's 1 1/8-mile race.
Game On Dude was assigned high weight of 126 pounds for the Clark, and Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will ride.
Baffert's star was the favorite for Eclipse Award "Horse of the Year" honors prior to the Breeders' Cup, and remains a candidate for the award that goes to America's champion older male.
Owned by a partnership that includes Bernie Schiappa, the Lanni Family Trust, Diamond Pride Stable of former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre and Mercedes Stable, Game on Dude has a career record of 28-15-5-1 with earnings of $5,602,158.
The Clark Handicap's known probable starters include (with trainers, weights): Bourbon Courage (Kellyn Gorder, 117), Easter Gift (Chad Brown, 116), Finnegans Wake (Dale Romans, 116), Game On Dude (Baffert, 126), Golden Ticket (Kenny McPeek, 120), Prayer for Relief (Steve Asmussen, 118) and Will Take Charge (Lukas, 123). Possible: Jaguar Paw (Stephen Lyster, 115).
At Churchill on Sunday, sub-freezing temperatures resulted in the cancellation of training. That made for a quiet morning for two-year-olds on the grounds being pointed toward the Grade 2, $150,000 Kentucky Jockey Club and the Grade 2, $150,000 Golden Rod.
Those 1 1/16-mile races will be the co-featured events on the "Stars of Tomorrow II" program devoted exclusively to two-year-olds on Saturday, the closing day of the Fall Meet.
Known probable starters for the 87th running of the Kentucky Jockey Club, (with trainers): Almost Famous (Pat Byrne), Awesome Sky (Mark Casse), Culprit (Romans), Dobra Historia (Bill Mott) and Laddie Boy (Chuck Peery). Possible: All Cash (Lukas) Bro Rodrigeaux (Lukas), Financial Mogul (Rick Violette Jr.), Ichiban Warrior (Todd Pletcher) and Sheikinator (McPeek).
The known probable starters the 70th running of the Golden Rod (with trainers) include: Bird Maker (Ian Wilkes), Canaryinacoalmine (Steve Margolis), Madly Truly (Casse), Naïve Enough (Ignacio Correas IV), Playful Love (Wilkes), Stonetastic (Kelly Breen), Streethomealabama (McPeek) and Vexed (Al Stall Jr.). Possible: Daddy's Memory (Cecil Borel), Room Service (Wayne Catalano) and Spangled Banner (Eoin Harty).