Game Winner Gives Baffert 14th Del Mar Futurity Victory
Game Winner © Benoit Photo
Gary and Mary West’s Game Winner provided trainer Bob Baffert with an amazing fourteenth success in the Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Futurity Monday with a length and one-half triumph in the traditional closing-day feature of Del Mar’s summer racing season.
Game Winner, the “other” horse representing Baffert who also sent out highly-regarded Roadster, the 3-5 favorite, moved in company with Roadster in pursuit of pacesetting Rowayton into the stretch. With Roadster unable to stay with his stablemate, Game Winner wore down Rowayton and moved out a convincing score in 1:23.18 for the seven furlongs.
Rowayton, ridden by Drayden Van Dyke, held on gamely for second, a half-length in front of Roadster and jockey Mike Smith who were eight and one-half lengths ahead of fourth-place in the field of six two-year-olds. Savagery was scratched from the original line-up.
Game Winner, a son of Candy Ride, broke his maiden first time out August 18. A solid second choice at 8-5, the colt paid $5.20, $3.20 and $2.10 while earning first money of $180,000 and recognition as the top two-year-old colt of the Del Mar meet.
Rowayton paid $5 and $2.40, while Roadster returned $2.10 to show.
Hall of Famer Baffert won his first of seven straight Del Mar Futurities, 1996-2002, with Silver Charm who went on to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and narrowly miss the Triple Crown when he lost in the Belmont Stakes. Over the years, his Futurity winners have included Officer, Lookin at Lucky and ultimate Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.
In the $100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf, one of two supporting features on the closing-day program, Glen Hill Farm’s Summering ran to her 1-5 odds with a solid victory under Van Dyke.
The daughter of War Front was perfectly positioned stalking the pacesetter, moved to the lead in the stretch and held on to win by a length one-quarter over the rallying 17-1 longshot Lady Prancealot. Bizwhacks was third and Posh Holly fourth in the field of eleven fillies.
Summering, owned by Glen Hill Farm and trained by Tom Proctor, scored her second victory in as many starts by stepping the mile over the infield grass circuit in 1:37.15 to earn first prize of $60,000. She returned $2.60, $2.60 and $2.20. Lady Prancealot, piloted by Joe Talamo in a promising American debut, paid $8.20 and $5.80, while Bizwhacks returned $5.20.
Miss Sunset, piloted by Smith, made it two in a row in the $75,000 C.E.R.F. Stakes Monday, leveling off in the final sixteenth to win by a length and one-half as the 3-5 favorite in a field of seven older fillies and mares.
Preserving her unbeaten record at Del Mar where she is five-for-five, Miss Sunset, a daughter of Into Mischief owned by Klein and Lebherz and trained by Jeff Bonde, ran the six furlongs in 1:10.48 and returned $3.20, $2.40 and $2.10 after her tenth win in 18 career starts. Runner-up Shoe It N Moe It paid $4.20 and $3.60, while third-place Dis Smart Cat returned $7.80 to show.
MARIO GUTIERREZ (Game Winner, winner) – “He (trainer Bob Baffert) told me ‘You know how to ride good horses; go ahead and ride him like you can.’ He said he wanted me to give him a little help out of the gate, then he said he thought he’d be strong for the finish. He was so right. I’m so happy for this opportunity; I’m so happy this worked out this way.”
DRAYDEN VAN DYKE (Rowayton, second) – “That was the plan – to just go for it. He did and he ran good. He fought me on changing leads once more; he fought me on the right (lead). But he’ll learn; he’ll get better.”
MIKE SMITH (Roadster, third) – “I don’t know what to say; I’m at a loss for words. I thought he’d run a whole lot better.”
BOB BAFFERT (Game Winner, winner) – “Going down the backside that other horse (Rowayton) was way out there and sometimes if you get out there like that you can steal a race. I just hoped my guys knew they were in good spots. I knew they’d have to sprint home. I knew coming in that (Game Winner) was coming back a little quick, but he’s a big strong heavy horse and I knew he could handle it. I’d rather run him again than keep working him. I’m a little disappointed in (Roadster) but it was only his second outing and sometimes the second out when you break their maidens they can get a little flat on you.”
(On the “other Baffert” phenomena) “We’re an equal opportunity barn and sometimes I just throw them in there when they’re doing well and they even surprise me.”
FRACTIONS: :22.53 :45.35 1:10.05 1:23.18
The stakes win was the second of the meet, but second (Nyquist, 2015) in the Del Mar Futurity at Del Mar for rider Gutierrez. He now has 15 stakes wins at Del Mar.
The stakes win was the second of the meet, but the (record) 14th in the Del Mar Futurity for trainer Baffert. He now has a (Del Mar record) 126 stakes wins locally.
The winning owners are Gary and Mary West of Rancho Santa Fe, CA.