Will 'Dude Be Game in the Gold Cup?

By J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman")

While last weekend’s racing action was slow, with only a handful of graded stakes races being run across the country, this weekend promises to be much, much more exciting. All told, there are twelve graded stakes races scheduled to be run on Saturday alone, including a trio of grade I events. Furthermore, some of the biggest names in American horse racing will be in action, including Game On Dude and Untapable. It’s a day of racing you won’t want to miss, so let’s start handicapping!

Gold Cup at Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I)

Before handicapping this race, allow me to offer a disclaimer that Game On Dude is one of my favorite horses, and I will be cheering hard for him on Saturday. It boggles the mind to think that this is the same horse that finished fourth in the 2010 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) as a three-year-old, gamely battling his way down the homestretch against Drosselmeyer, Fly Down, and First Dude. If you had told me then that Game On Dude would become a nine-time grade I winner—and still be competing at the top level of the sport in 2014—I would never have believed you. Yet here we are, and Game On Dude is ready to roll against six rivals in the Gold Cup, a race he will be attempting to win for the third consecutive year.

But with all of that said, Game On Dude is getting up there in years, and while his 2014 season has already featured one of his most spectacular victories ever—a dominant win over Will Take Charge and Mucho Macho Man in the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I)—he has also lost two of his three starts this year, and may be starting to show signs of his increasing age. As a result, it wouldn’t surprise me if his best performances start to come farther and farther apart.

So with that in mind, I’m going to reluctantly pick against him on Saturday. The presence of the speedy front-runner Fury Kapcori should keep Game On Dude honest on the lead, and potentially set up a late run from Clubhouse Ride. The six-year-old son of Candy Ride has run against Game On Dude on five occasions, losing each time, but enters this year’s Gold Cup off of a respectable half-length victory in the Californian Stakes (gr. II) here at Santa Anita and seems to be rounding into peak form. Now, unless Clubhouse Ride runs the race of his life on Saturday, it would require a sub-par performance by Game On Dude to allow Clubhouse Ride to win. But since we’re handicapping this race from the perspective that Game On Dude might be vulnerable, Clubhouse Ride may very well be capable of getting the job done.

Another logical contender is Imperative, who has already beaten Game On Dude twice this year. But on each occasion, Game On Dude had a legitimate excuse—last time out, in the Charles Town Classic (gr. III), Game On Dude was running over a bullring racetrack that he has never particularly cared for, and in the San Antonio Stakes (gr. II), Game On Dude was making his first start of the season, wasn’t fully cranked up, and got involved in a speed duel. While I certainly respect the chances of Imperative, I believe Clubhouse Ride has a better chance at beating ‘Dude today, and he should offer better value as well.

So in essence, my official selection to win is Clubhouse Ride, although this is one race where I would be happy to be wrong in my handicapping.

Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I)

Let’s face it—Untapable is going to be the heaviest favorite for the Mother Goose since Rachel Alexandra in 2009, and for Untapable to lose this race would require an upset of monumental magnitude. On paper, her primary opposition would probably be Stopchargingmaria, but the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) winner may scratch and await the Coaching Club American Oaks. That would leave just four horses to face Untapable, the best of which may be Princess Violet, a lightly-raced New York- bred filly riding a two-race winning streak. However, as impressive as she has been thus far, this will be her first start beyond 6-1/2 furlongs, and beating Untapable while stretching out a quarter-mile in distance could prove very, very challenging.

So for the purpose of trying to find some sort of value for the exotics—which isn’t an easy task!—I’ll be looking toward House Rules, runner-up in the Gulfstream Oaks (gr. II) and Davona Dale Stakes (gr. II) during the winter at Gulfstream Park. She has only run once since March, finishing sixth in the Acorn Stakes (gr. I) three weeks ago, but should be sharper with a recent race under her belt and seems a logical candidate to round out the exacta.

So here’s my straight trifecta for the Mother Goose, assuming that Stopchargingmaria does indeed scratch: 1, Untapable; 2, House Rules; 3, Princess Violet. Hey, if it works, maybe we can get a 10-1 return! :)

Who do you like this weekend?


Leave a Comment:


Keelerman; Gold Cup.

I'm going to give Imperative a shot.

26 Jun 2014 4:43 PM

I agree with you 100% $50.00 TRI with your 3 in that order. In my P 3 I will use House Rules. Trained by the Giant Killer, Untappable looses Rosie and coming of a layoff albeit by design.

I think the Dude still has this one over Clubhouse Ride and Imperative $20  cold Tri

26 Jun 2014 7:42 PM

Rooting for Game On Dude and Untapable!

26 Jun 2014 11:10 PM

Posted my pick for the MG in the "Gantry" blog.   I like House Rules and SCM in here and will play both on top : 1,6 with 1,6,2 with 1,6,2,4 but if SCM scratches, I'm not going to try and beat Untapable and will play "my" big trifecta lol

$5 Tri :   2 with 1,4 with 1,4

Triple Bend :  I like Wine Police to try and beat Sahara Sky (4,7 with 4,7,2 with 4,7,2,1).   I might play an Espinoza $2 double (7 with 9) and a $2 P3 ending to GoD.

Gold Cup :  IMO, Moreno was the key to Imperative beating GoD at CT.   Fury Kapcori does not have the same speed as Moreno and GoD is back at his track.   FK is not going to be able to keep up with GoD and turning for home, I don't think anyone will catch him.  I like Majestic Harbor to have the first go at GoD with CR coming behind him.  I'm intrigued by Miller's horse who was given the same weight as GoD but will be running his first US race here...he'll have a spot in the 3rd and 4th hole to complete my super.

27 Jun 2014 3:50 AM
Catherine McGrath

Don't put Game on Dude out to pasture just yet, some of the great racehorses were old by our old age standards before they even became great. If they keep him sound, he'll be winning many more years.

27 Jun 2014 6:28 AM

As a 7YO G.O.D. has been defeated twice in 3 starts. An asterisk needs to be placed beside his victory in the 2014 SA Handicap. He won the race as a 4YO in 1:59.47; as a 6YO in 2:00.14 and as a 7YO in 1:58 plus. Between 1935 and 2014, seven 7YOs have won the SA Handicap and GOD is the only one to go below 1:59. I refuse to believe that a horse that had never broken 1:59 in 12 previous attempts at 10F suddenly turns up and runs 1:58 at the ripe old age of 7.  Is GOD better at the ripe old age of 7? His trainer has a reputation of making the slowest of horses work 57 seconds. This is a classic example of a high octane driven performance.

FC has a rider who is a master at rating leaders. He was allowed to run too fast in his last race and will not be denied with the master up.

27 Jun 2014 8:55 AM

Catherine McGrath;

I hope so! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Game On Dude stays in good shape, comes back next year, and takes another shot at the $10,000,000 Dubai World Cup. With that race returning to dirt after a five-year hiatus, I think Game On Dude would have a terrific chance to win it and become the highest-earning American-based racehorse of all time.

27 Jun 2014 9:02 AM

Along with all of the major stakes races being held this weekend, some of the smaller ones look very appealing as well! The $250,000 Iowa Derby (gr. III) features the return of Louisiana Derby (gr. II) winner Vicar's in Trouble, unraced since a last-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. Here are the entries: www.equibase.com/.../PRM062814USA-EQB.html

Wildcat Red, unraced since an eighteenth-place finish in the Derby, will also be returning to action on Saturday. He is scheduled to face off against six rivals in the $75,000 Quality Road Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Here are the entries: www.equibase.com/.../GP062814USA-EQB.html

27 Jun 2014 12:15 PM
Seabiscrateriat O' War

My prediction: Untapable finishes a lackluster 4th with no apparant excuses while House Rules wins easily.

27 Jun 2014 2:18 PM
Little Bill

Today, Belmont 8) 3 Watery Moon

27 Jun 2014 6:23 PM

I dont know how much more than 70 days the Dude has aged since his last race but Imperative who beat him 70 days ago is the only one less than 8-1 on the morning who has aged 70 days since their last.Fury Kapcori and Clubhouse Ride have only aged 28 days since their last race but I think the extra rest is worth more than the extra aging.If Dude dosent win or place in this one then the 70 days since his last race have aged him an exponential amount not straight 70 for 70.There might be room for a businessman to create aging figures to accompany speed figures and the tracks could sponser the startup so that the information overload will keep you studying inconclusive numbers when you should be thinking about betting strategy and odds to conclude if the race is worth betting.

27 Jun 2014 9:23 PM

Does anyone have any thoughts on Sahara Sky in tomorrow's Triple Bend Stakes at Santa Anita? I'm not sure what to make of his dull effort last time out in the Churchill Downs Stakes, and as the 8-5 favorite on the Triple Bend morning line, I'm thinking of trying to beat him. Declassify (5-2) was very impressive winning his first two starts for trainer Bob Baffert, and I thought he ran very well last time out when finishing second off a long layoff. Does anyone else like his chances?

27 Jun 2014 10:26 PM

Coldcuts got someone to type for him again.....(impossible to type with the staight jacket)......god suddenly shows up? really? He's been saying he sucks for 5 years.......

27 Jun 2014 11:44 PM

KY VET if you want coldcuts go to your local church Im sure theyll give you  handouts after you blow your disability check on booze and amateur bets on the ponies.Keep givin me your money baby, keep drinkin and bettin.

28 Jun 2014 2:21 AM

Senorita Stakes : I like the 3rd race back angle on Miss Machiavelli at 12-1 ML.  I don't know if she'll win though...I think Rovenna wins even with the dirt to turf switch.

28 Jun 2014 2:28 AM

I certainly do not have all the records. However, it is unprecedented for a 7YO to record a time of 1:58.17 for 10F. Who would have predicted same?  It’s not like GOD has been a world beater. He flops when real competition is in town and can only win at Charles Town when he ventures out of town. Nine of his 16 victories were recorded against three horses i.e., Clubhouse Ride, Kettle Corn and Nonios. Now that’s a stellar trio.

Triple Crown winner Affirmed recorded a time of 1:58.60 in the SA Handicap as a 4YO. GOD is no part of Affirmed. GOD 2014 winning time was 2 seconds faster than his 2013 wining time. Most young horses would blow a gasket recording such times. Can anyone highlight another time in  GOD’s career  where he recorded a repeat victory and his time was 2 seconds faster the previous?

The 4YO Will Take Charge was running sideways in the OK Handicap following his relentless chase of GOD in the SA Handicap. He was unplaced in the following start. The race obviously impacted 4YO WTC negatively. I believe it will impact 7YO GOD negatively going forwards?

Some conditioners are high tech and dangerous. It’s not always about the quality of horses entering their barns; it’s about the program to which they are exposed. If you give Speedy Bob a turtle to train he will get it to work 57 for 5/8. He is a very high tech trainer just like his east coast counterpart Todd P.  How many of the horses trained by both conditioners have turned out to be stellar as sires and broodmares?

Step to the bank with FC.

28 Jun 2014 9:02 AM

Coldfacts :  Why would an asterisk be needed on Game On Dude's SAH win ?   Are you suggesting Baffert juiced him up ?  Is it really that unlikely that a 7YO can run a 1:58 10F ?   I'm not sure if you know this (I thought it's well known to horseplayers), but SA is well known for having a speedway track.   I'm not sure how you came up with that post at all...what's the reasoning for putting the asterisk ?  Please tell me it's not because he is 7 yrs old...

If you think G.O.D is vulnerable and a sucker's bet, then just say so.  I take it your pick to upset is Fury Kapcori even though you kept typing FC... but maybe it meant Fried Chicken, who knows...

28 Jun 2014 9:31 AM

Coldfacts : After all that  blah blah blah comments about being 7YO, let me guess, you'll play him in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th in your superfecta.   Or you'll have an exacta boxing him with a few horses....lol.

28 Jun 2014 9:52 AM

CFs If you think Hollendorfer and the rest of these trainers are not what you term high tech, your living in a bubble.

The young horses are already starting life as offspring of drug users so getting juice is not uncommon in American racing.Baffert and Pletcher have so much more resources available to them and their owners than most of the others.Hollendorfer just dosent get the noteriety of the other two, because he dosent have horses running in all the grade ones all over the country or he hasnt done this for as long as Baffert and Pletcher have.He is a little more discreet about HIS BUSINESS.

28 Jun 2014 10:58 AM


I could be wrong and will appreciate any correction. I do not recall Mr. Hollendorfer being either suspended or fined for any drug violations associated with his charges.

Speedy Bob has been cited and fined for drug violations. His barn was recently under investigation due to the unexplained death of 5 horses. He discontinued the use of a particular product that was common in all 5 deceased horses

Todd P is probably the worst of the high tech trainers. He has been cited, fined and suspended for violations. I do not recall a favorite in a Breeders Cup race being incapable of breaking out of a canter after the gates opened. Life At Ten reminds us it is possible.

Mr. Hollendorfer is in the category of Larry Jones, Bill Mott and Graham Motion. I have nothing but respect for these gentlemen.

28 Jun 2014 11:45 AM

Imperative must be a source of major embarrassment to Darley/Godolphin trainer Eoin Harty. While the gelding was under his keep and care it did not advance beyond the Optional Claim level.

Since it has been claimed it has contested 3 graded races. In all three races he faced celebrated GOD and he defeated him twice.

Imperative recently won the Charles Town classic running by GOD with ease. He has an excellent chance of winning the Gold Cup and if he does I am of the opinion that Darley/Godolphin should find a new trainer for the CA string.

He must have been party to the gelding being entered in a claiming race. Why wasn't he able to get the colt to perform at the graded level while under his keep and care? One can only imagine how many of Darley/Godolphin horses are under performing under his program.

Mr. Harty has a very nice horse in Footbridge. That colt can hardly get out of its own way. I wonder what would happen if it was transferred to the current trainer of Imperative.

28 Jun 2014 12:05 PM

CFs I dont know if this is true: I do not recall Mr. Hollendorfer being either suspended or fined for any drug violations associated with his charges.

If you know a site or anyone else knows of a website where this can be verified go ahead and post it we wanna know.In any case Baffert and Pletcher are at the top or near the top of the money earned list  every year, they will be the first ones to be investigated because of their success,Hollendorfer stays mostly in Cali and mantains a lower profile than BB and TP.

28 Jun 2014 12:44 PM

Watched the race. Untapable and Princess Violet were my picks. Sure didn't like Princess Violet veering over so hard the 1-9 favorite had to check that sharply. Untapable is something, for sure.  

28 Jun 2014 3:27 PM

John henry?

28 Jun 2014 3:41 PM

A dishwasher and a drop out talking about drugging horses...........why not talk rocket science........they dont even know a drug that makes a horse "juiced up"...........stupider.....and stupider......

28 Jun 2014 3:47 PM

KY VET I see you havent got drunk yet, but since your bragging you havent lost all your money yet either.Who would have thought a drunk loser would have actually thought people on this blog would take advice from him.Such an amateur touting his knowledge,claims to know when horses are hurt and still bets the KD future in November for a race in May,Ill reword your buddy coldcuts best line on this blog tiny mind armed with a keyboard.

28 Jun 2014 6:35 PM
Little Bill

My compliments to the people that came to this blog and made picks.

29 Jun 2014 12:03 AM
Pedigree Ann

Coldfacts - did you watch the first day of the Breeders' Cup last year? When the Santa Anita main track was so fast and speed-favoring that n1x optional claimers went in under 1:34, after 22- 45- type fractions? Track conditions are a major factor in running fast times; it is not just the talent of the competitors. When you put a talented horse on a track in very fast condition, you will get a very fast time. Or are you in the bunch who think GoD has absolutely no talent at all?

29 Jun 2014 3:37 AM

Pedigree Ann,

Below is a quote from one of post that deleted from Hanging With Haskin.

“When a 7YO extends itself beyond what it was capable of as a 3YO & 4YO it is unlikely to win at the highest level again in my book.”

GOD’s best time on dirt for 10F prior to the 2014 SA Handicap was 1:59.47. He recorded same as a 4YO. In the 2014 SA Handicap GOD recorded a time of 1:32 for a mile en route to a final time of 1:58.17 for 10F as a 7YO. A faster than usual track is only likely to make a marginal contribution to those times by a 7YO with 31 races under its girth.

SA Park is renowned for producing fast times. The 2012 & 2013 Breeder Cup produced some incredible times. GOD could not even smell the lead in the 2012/2013 BCC where the fractions were slower than those recorded in the 2014 SA Handicap. In 2014 the same GOD suddenly gets a new lease on life after 3 consecutive defeats and runs the BCC winner and runner-up into the ground en route to a stakes record. He was then defeated in his next start by Imperative a horse he destroyed by 17L in their previous meeting.

Anne, I have nothing but respect for your assessments but I think you need to revisit GOD performance in the 2014 SA Handicap and compare it to his resume. I have no doubt you will come to the realization that he was not running on just ability.

I would be surprise if GOD wins another race at the highest level.

29 Jun 2014 7:19 AM

Man, that was an awful day.   I would've made a bundle on Majestic Harbor if I play WIN money but I don't so...another day, another (lots of) dollar.

I would like to open a formal complaint and hopefully start an investigation on the connections of the horses that set track records at Gulfstream Park earlier this year.   How is it possible that the track record was set and re-set in a span of weeks ????   THAT IS JUST IMPOSSIBLE!   We haven't seen or heard anything from those horses since...how are they able to set records and not win any races after ???   They should not be losing anymore, they're so fast!!    And don't no one call me crazy!

29 Jun 2014 9:21 AM

From the Fall of last year we have been reading tales about a horse’s age and its effect on the horse’s ability, from a non-scientist whose theme seems to be that as a horse ages past 5 or 6 that horse’s legs somehow cannot sustain a high level of performance.

What do the facts show?

In America horses are generally assigned weights below 132 lbs.

What happens elsewhere? On the Flats in England, it is not unusual to see a horse assigned 140 lbs.

But as we are focusing on the horse’s legs, let us look at races in which great stress is placed on the legs.

Look at England and the Steeplechase.

The weight carried in the 2014 Champion Chase at Cheltenham was 164lbs. That race is over 2 miles and 13 fences. The ages of the starters ranged from 6 to 12 years. The winner was 8 years old, the second was 10, the third was 7 and the fourth was 12, years old.

According to Wikipedia:

“The Queen Mother Champion Chase is a Grade 1 National Hunt chase in Great Britain which is open to horses aged five years or older”.

If a horse’s legs will propel a horse over fences, for 2 miles, under 164 lbs, on firm, good or heavy going, and the starters must be at least 5 years old, why would one assume that the legs of a 7-year old horse would pose a problem for that horse going 10 furlongs under less than 132 lbs, on a flat surface?

There are vets in England, in case anyone needs to know. But the non-vet might have superior knowledge about the way horses age.

29 Jun 2014 10:44 AM

JerseyBoy If you were a horse would you rather run on grass or hard dirt even if you had to jump hurdles and carry more weight.

I think Arabians natural habitat was sand not packed down dirt manipulated by humans to be even harder on BIG BUSINESS DAYS,maybe the wild mustangs that ran around the west like to run on clay or hard dirt.

29 Jun 2014 1:55 PM


I would ask a vet for advice and go with his recommendation. Of course, I would need to find a vet who speaks horsee-horsee.

29 Jun 2014 3:04 PM

JerseyBoy what do you think a vet would say that if he was a horse he would prefer to run around the parking lot at his place of business or on grass.

29 Jun 2014 7:13 PM

Social Inclusion set a NTR and has not visited the winner’s enclosure since. There is a significant difference between a 3YO setting at NTR as opposed to 7YO running world record splits and significantly faster than any other 7YO.  

Track star Michael Johnson did not break 20 seconds for 200M until he was in his twenties. At age 29 and at the back end of his career he set the WR of 19.32 at the amazement of the athletics world. His previously WR of 19.66 was lowered by an astonishing .34 en route to his NWR of 19.32. No other 29YO has ever run that fast. Interestingly he was never able to get close to that time again. Many believed that like Flo Jo, Carl Lewis and others Americans, he was also using performance enhancing products.

Usain Bolt broke 20 seconds as a teenager and was running faster at the distance than top class sprinter American Maurice Green as a teenager. He went on to break MJ’s WR and lowered his own WR from 19.30 to 19.19 the following year. He showed from very early that he was capable of great things on the track. He has set WRs in the USA, China, Germany, South Korea and England.

Bolt’s achievements are consistent with that of a phenom. The same cannot be said about MJ who was average as a youngster and not projected to be capable to run 19.32 at age 29.

When a 7YO records a stakes record en route to defeating a champion 3YO that defeated a him in their two previous meetings, questions must be asked about such a performance.

30 Jun 2014 11:08 AM

There are always things people think that are not true......they hear someone say it, so they assume it is true.........grass is softer than dirt, so it is healthier for the horse.......well, not exactly true......ever notice horses on grass, sometimes their heads bob way down? It's because grass courses are uneven......there are holes, bumps, incline and declines.......horses get injured......especially soft tissue, tendons etc............so all these general statements.........are not really true.......

30 Jun 2014 6:03 PM

Everyone can believe what they want but American thoroughbreds have regressed since the 70s if you want to continue to make excuses for big business that is state of the art in the US in 2014,go ahead and be in denial.

01 Jul 2014 4:23 PM

You can argue for dirt vs turf but the Euros brand of racing is much healthier for the animals on four legs,the businessmen on two legs is another story.

01 Jul 2014 4:25 PM
Little Bill

Brontexx, you have any stats to back those claims.

01 Jul 2014 7:39 PM

Little Bill stats can be used to prove any point.You want an example politcians trying to get elected can have the exact same stats but their writers and strategists can spin the results any way they can create to try to convince voters they are telling the truth.

I am just a blogger and not a writer so stats that paint such a big business as horseracing in a bad light will not be easy to find on the worlds public library system the internet,there are ways to keep those stats out of the public eye or are you so naive to believe the internet is 100% free.

01 Jul 2014 8:16 PM
Little Bill

That's a lot of words for a "no" answer.

01 Jul 2014 10:29 PM

Little Bill heres a clue if you want stats check the web for articles in the same realm, also check the race times for route races on the dirt that have been run at the same track and configuration for years.I am referring to 9 furlongs and above.There arent many races that fit that description because as one of the bloggers has repeatedly stated on here, US route races on the dirt have been shortened.

When you write about the theory of evolution, and use American thoroughbreds as an example of how they have evolved by natural selection and gotten faster and improved their stamina it does not ad up.

02 Jul 2014 6:42 AM

Little Bill the most reliable stats in this game are percentages and they are long term so even statisticians that have their head screwed on would not consider these stats fallacies.

BTW PPs are stats that you and the other politicians(handicrappers) on this blog can spin any way you want to support your opinion on the race.SEE MY POST ON THIS BLOG AT 01 Jul 2014 8:16PM

Little Bill stats can be used to prove any point.You want an example politcians trying to get elected can have the exact same stats but their writers and strategists can spin the results any way they can create to try to convince voters they are telling the truth.

02 Jul 2014 7:10 PM

Little Bill I think you might be an Indian or have some of that blood going by your screen name which sounds like you are a Chiefs assistant.

02 Jul 2014 7:17 PM
Little Bill

Sorry I asked. Lesson learned.

02 Jul 2014 8:51 PM

Little Bill make your selections for races 4 and 7 at Delaware.

03 Jul 2014 11:03 AM
Plod Boy Phil

Lil' Bill -

I'm genuinely surprised that it was a lesson you needed learning.

03 Jul 2014 6:55 PM

Plod Boy Phil;

Welcome back! Your comments have been missed! I've got a new blog post up today, talking about Saturday's five graded stakes races at Belmont Park. I'd love to hear your thoughts!


03 Jul 2014 8:44 PM

Plod baby teach him the ropes keep your contributions coming,Mr Johnson is much obliged.

04 Jul 2014 5:25 AM

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