Heavy favorite Game On Dude took the lead early and then ran away from his competition to win Sunday's $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar.
Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Martin Garcia, Game On Dude, breaking from an outside post, took the lead shortly after the start and proceeded to set the entire pace in the 1 1/4-mile stakes. .
Sent off as the 8-5 favorite in the 12-horse field, Game On Dude never allowed any of his rivals to offer a serious threat as he went on to register an 8 1/4-length victory in a race which he was caught last year at the wire by Dullahan. Two years ago, Game On Dude finished fourth to Acclamation.
Finishing second was 6-1 third pick Kettle Corn followed by You Know I Know, Richard's Kid, Holding Glory, Delegation, Byrama, 7-2 second choice Dullahan, Jeranimo, Endorsement, Farraaj and Blueskiesnrainbows. Liaison, also trained by Baffert, was scratched and will run Saturday at Del Mar.
The time for the Pacific Classic was 2:00.69 on Del Mar's synthetic main track.
"It was a very emotional win for my wife and I, my family," Baffert said. "This horse is, you know, he's always lacked that little respect. I think today he's just proven he's just getting better and better. Everything worked out and the race went smooth.
"I'm happy for Martin. You know, he's the one that gets this horse ready for everybody, he finally got a chance to get a nice fat check."
Garcia picked up the mount Saturday after Joel Rosario was unable to fly to California because he broke his left foot Friday at Saratoga. Rosario was set to fill in for Mike Smith who was riding at Saratoga Sunday. Rosario won last year's race aboard Dullahan.
Game On Dude, partly owned by Joe Torre, puts $600,000 more into his bank account. The 6-year-old gelding has won 15 times in 27 lifetime starts for $5,602,158.
He won the Hollywood Gold Cup in his last start along with wins this year in the San Antonio Stakes, Santa Anita Handicap and Charles Town Classic.
Game On Dude joins Lava Man as the only horses to win the Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup and Pacific Classic the same year.
Baffert is a four-time winner of the race, including twice with Richard's Kid (2009-10).
The race is a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" event. Winning gives the horse an automatic spot in the Breeders' Cup Classic on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita. However, Game On Dude already secured a spot in the Classic by winning the Hollywood Gold Cup.
Game On Dude paid $5.40, $3.80 and $3.20. Kettle Corn returned $5.60 and $4.40, and You Know I Know paid $9.00 to show.