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GAME ON DUDE HORSE OF MEET IN MEDIA POLL, BAFFERT, ROSARIO EARN HONORS AS TOP TRAINER AND JOCKEY
ARCADIA, Calif. (April 17, 2011) – Game on Dude, who withstood a 12-minute stewards’ inquiry before being named official winner of the Santa Anita Handicap, endured an even longer delay before ballots were counted and he was named Horse of the Meet over several other challengers deemed worthy by voters in Santa Anita’s annual Media Poll.
A 4-year-old gelding by Awesome Again trained by Bob Baffert for the Lanni Family Trust, Mercedes Stable, LLC, and Bernard Schiappa, Game on Dude won by a nose at nearly 15-1 under Chantal Sutherland, making her the first female to win the Big ’Cap in its 74 runnings.
The victory was one of 44 registered by Baffert at the winter/spring meet, giving him a record ninth Santa Anita training championship. The 56-year-old Hall of Fame conditioner also won the Santa Anita Derby with longshot Midnight Interlude, making Baffert the first trainer since H.A. (Jimmy) Jones in more than half a century to win both marquee races in the same year. The rare feat was named Achievement of the Meet. Midnight Interlude also was named the meet’s Outstanding 3-Year-Old.
Jones won the Santa Anita Handicap with Mark-Ye-Well and the Santa Anita Derby with Chanlea for Calumet Farm in 1953.
Baffert and Joel Rosario were named Outstanding Trainer and Outstanding Jockey, respectively. Baffert led Santa Anita’s training standings from Jan. 2 on. “We were able to build our stable back up but I couldn’t have done it without an excellent staff and great clientele, and I’m grateful for that,” he said.
Rosario overcame a 12-win lead established by Rafael Bejarano at one point in the meet to capture his first Santa Anita title with 89 wins, eight more than runner-up Bejarano. Rosario, a 26-year-old native of the Dominican Republic, tied in stakes wins with Bejarano at 13 each and led in purse earnings with more than $4.5 million.
Arnold Zetcher won the El Encino Stakes and the La Caňada Stakes, both Grade II events, with Always a Princess. He capped his meet with Midnight Interlude’s victory in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby to be named Owner of the Meet. His horses earned $1,042,040, nearly double that of runner-up CRK Stable’s $547,240.
Other poll winners were: Older Horse, Game on Dude; Older Filly or Mare, Always a Princess; Grass Horse, Fluke, who won the Thunder Road Handicap and the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile for owner Patricia Bozano and trainer Humberto Ascanio; Grass Filly or Mare and Outstanding 3-Year-Old Filly, Cambina, winner of three turf stakes for owners Anthony Bilich, Charles and Jason Cline, George Schmitt and Denis Raihill, et al, and trainer Jeff Bonde: the La Habra Stakes, the China Doll Stakes and the Providencia Stakes; and Outstanding Sprinter, Amazombie, who won the Sunshine Millions Sprint; the Sensational Star Handicap on grass; and the Grade II Potrero Grande Stakes for trainer Bill Spawr, who owns the horse with Tom Sanford.
Separate Forest, claimed for $25,000 on Jan. 14 by trainer Doug O’Neill for Suarez Racing (Pablo Suarez), Westside Rentals.com (Mark Verge) and Darin Tsukashima, was named Claiming Horse of the Meet. The 4-year-old Forestry filly went on to win three of four starts after the claim, including the Grade III Las Cienegas Handicap on April 9.
The Grade II San Luis Obispo Stakes on Feb. 19 was named Race of the Meet. Champ Pegasus, the 3-2 second choice in the mile and a half turf race, outdueled 11-10 favorite Bourbon Bay in an exciting stretch-long battle to prevail by a nose with Rosario aboard.
There was no winner in the Outstanding Apprentice Jockey category.
2010-11 Santa Anita Winter/Spring Media Poll
Horse of Meet: Game on Dude
Older Horse: Game on Dude
Claimer: Separate Forest
Older Filly/Mare: Always a Princess
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Grass Horse: Fluke
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Grass Filly/Mare: Cambina
3-Year-Old: Midnight Interlude
Race: San Luis Obispo
3-Year-Old Filly: Cambina
Owner: Arnold Zetcher
Achievement: Baffert Big ‘Cap, Derby Wins