Game On Dude successfully defended his crown in Saturday's Hollywood Gold Cup and lessened the advantage reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan has in the NTRA National Poll.
Game on Dude was rewarded by poll voters with an increase of eight first- place votes and draws within 20 points of the top spot. Wise Dan holds on to first with 32 top votes and 463 points. Game On Dude now has 15 first-place votes and 443 points.
The 6-year-old, trained by Bob Baffert, posted a one-length win over Kettle Corn to record his second straight victory in the 74th Gold Cup at Hollywood Park.
"He had control of the pace and everything went like we drew it up in our mind," Baffert said. "He just finds more gears as he goes along.
"There's added pressure when you train a horse like him. He has a fan base now. You don't want to see him get beat because of the fans. I can hear them cheering him on. When they turned for home, it was like the whole place was on my side."
Wise Dan will make his next start at Saratoga in as yet undetermined stakes. Game On Dude is being pointed to the Pacific Classic in August at Del Mar.
Fort Larned, Point of Entry and Sahara Sky remain in the next three positions in the voting. Fort Larned doubled his first-place votes to two for 372 points, followed by Point of Entry with 279 points and Sahara Sky's 187 points.
Veteran runner Flat Out won his second Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park on Saturday and moved into the poll in the sixth spot. Trained by Bill Mott, the 7-year-old scored 124 points off his 2 1/2-length victory.
"He broke a little better than I even imagined him to," said Mott. "And then (jockey Junior Alvarado) eased him off the other horse and he came again when he wanted him to.
"If he would be doing extremely well, I would say we might take a shot at the Whitney (at Saratoga in August). I suppose that makes some sense, and then try to get him back here for the (Jockey Club) Gold Cup this fall."
Filling out the poll are Graydar (121), Animal Kingdom (119), Obviously (111) and Oxbow (108).