Prohibitive favorite Game On Dude made a successful return to West Virginia Saturday night for the fifth running of the $1.5 million Charles Town Classic. The 6-year-old gelding captured the 1 1/8- mile stakes over five rivals on Charles Town Races' six-furlong track.
Ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, Game On Dude went off as the 3-10 favorite with Ron the Greek at 7-2 and defending race champ Caixa Eletronica 6-1.
The Classic, worth $500,000 more from last year, proved not to be quite as easy for the favorite than his most recent start. Challenging Game On Dude from the break was 38-1 longshot Percussion.
Percussion, ridden by Kendrick Carmouche, set the pace with Game On Dude to the outside in second as Ron the Greek trailed the field. Caixa Eletronica was third through the early going.
Heading into the far turn, Game On Dude took the lead with Clubhouse Ride second and Ron the Greek moving into third from the outside.
Trained by Bob Baffert, Game On Dude had the lead around the final turn as Clubhouse Ride and Ron the Greek were running at him. The favorite drifted out a bit down the stretch but was able to hold off Clubhouse Ride by a half- length at the wire.
Ron the Greek, 2012 Santa Anita Handicap winner, was third followed by Percussion, Caixa Eletronica and Isn't He Perfect. Mordi's Miracle was an early scratch.
The time for the Charles Town Classic was 1:52.27 on a fast track.
Game On Dude pocketed $1 million for the hard fought victory. It was his 13th win in 25 career starts, giving him lifetime earnings of $4,702,158.
Two years ago, the gelding was second to Duke of Mischief in the Classic off his first Santa Anita Handicap win. This year he was able to win both races and has posted four straight wins since a seventh in last year's Breeders' Cup Classic.
Owned by a partnership that includes Joe Torre, Game On Dude won the Native Diver Stakes to close 2012 and then began 2013 with his second straight San Antonio Handicap win followed by the Big 'Cap at Santa Anita.
Game On Dude returned $2.60, $2.20 and $2.20. Clubhouse Ride paid $4.60 and $3.00, and Ron The Greek paid $2.20 to show.