'Dude' joins list of Belmont hopefuls

Updated: May 11, 2010, 5:14 PM ET
By Mary Rampellini | Daily Racing Form



GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Game On Dude's name can be added to the list of Belmont Stakes starters to emerge in the last week. On Saturday, Game On Dude won the Grade 3, $200,000 Lone Star Derby.

Others who have recently been mentioned for the Belmont include Ice Box, Fly Down, and Uptowncharlybrown.

In the Lone Star Derby, which was run at 1 1/16 miles, Game On Dude closed strongly for a 4 1/2-length win. He earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 95.

"We're going to run him in the Belmont," trainer Bob Baffert said of the Grade 1, $1 million race June 5 at Belmont Park. "He should fit that track, and I think the mile and a half won't be a problem for the way he's bred."

Game On Dude is a son of Awesome Again, who won the Breeders' Cup Classic in 1998. The Lone Star Derby win came in Game On Dude's fifth start and his second for Baffert after he was purchased privately in March.

Game On Dude, who races for the Lanni Family Trust, Mercedes Stable, and Bernard Schiappa, was initially going to pass on the Lone Star Derby after a flight could not be arranged from Kentucky to Texas. The horse had even worked three furlongs the morning of entries in order to gain approval to wear blinkers for a future start. But soon after the work, Baffert received a call from Jeanette Hughes, assistant racing secretary at Lone Star, informing him that the Lone Star Derby was coming up light on horses.

"She told me, 'You've got to bring this horse,' " Baffert said. "I said, 'I just worked him out of the gate.' She said, 'You've got to bring him.' "

The decision was then made to van Game On Dude to Lone Star.

"For him to work from the gate, be put on van and ship to Dallas, then win the derby like that, he's a pretty nice horse," Baffert said. "The raw talent is there. He's just coming around.

"I think the horse will get better with age."

The week before the Lone Star Derby, Baffert had been chasing his fourth win in the Kentucky Derby. He had the favorite for the race, Lookin At Lucky, who finished sixth after a troubled trip. The victory by Game On Dude gave Baffert his fourth victory in the Lone Star Derby.

"As soon as Game On Dude won," Baffert said, "a friend sent me a text saying, 'I knew you'd get your fourth derby. I just didn't know it was going to be a derby in Texas.' "

Baffert's other Lone Star Derby winners are Anet, Wanna Runner, and Mythical Power. He has won the Kentucky Derby with Silver Charm, Real Quiet, and War Emblem.