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Tale of the tape

Breeders’ Cup: Game On Dude Vs. Royal Delta

Game on Dude, considered the best male dirt horse in America, and Royal Delta, considered the best female dirt horse in America, will have the chance to be the shinning stars of Santa Anita’s two-day event. Royal Delta is pre-entered in both the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Ladies Classic, but is a long shot to face Game on Dude in the Classic, considering her trainer Bill Mott already has three horses in the Classic. A potential match-up would be great for the sport, but Royal Delta will be in for an exciting race either way, as the Ladies Classic has one of the deepest fields in years. Fans will have to wait to see if they get the match-up they crave, but either way let’s compare the two.

2011 Breeders' Cup World Championships Breeder's Cup from Curchill Downs

Game on Dude

Royal Delta

These two trainers are two of the best of all time. Both are in The Hall of Fame and both know how to win big races. Bob Baffert gets the slight edge, because he has won more races than Bill Mott each of the past few years and because he consistently trains over Santa Anita's surface, unlike the eastern based Mott. Trainer Bill Mott would win most training match-ups, as he has won eight Breeders' Cups, including the Ladies Classic with Royal Delta and the Classic with Drosselmeyer last year.
Rafael Bejarano, a three time Breeders' Cup winner, does not have anywhere near the amount of accomplishments that Mike Smith does, but he has the most important factor going for him, current success. With over 220 wins this year, many of which came at Santa Anita, and over 14 million in earnings this year, Bejarano is on top of his game. He knows Santa Anita's track better than anyone and was chosen as a replacement rider for Chantel Sutherland, because he is Baffert's go to man. Jockey Mike Smith, like Bill Mott, is a legend. He has 15 Breeders' Cup victories, including two on the great Zenyatta and one in last year's Breeders' Cup Classic aboard Drosselmeyer. He is a Hall of Famer and still a big race jockey, but his age has taken a slight toll and though still effective, he is not the same jockey he once was.
Game on Dude is 4 for 6 on the year, with 2 Grade 1 victories. He was unable to win his two most challenging tests, the Dubai World Cup and the Pacific Classic, but he is 2 for 2 at Santa Anita this year and is a perfect 5 for 5 at Santa Anita for his career. Current Form Royal Delta's last win, the Grade 1 Beldame, was a smashing performance. She has been defeated 3 times this year; however, and at times has not looked as impressive as last year. When on her game, there might not be anyone better. The question is, which Royal Delta will show up?
Game on Dude, a four time Grade 1 winner, has won both the Santa Anita Handicap and the Hollywood Gold Cup, two of the three biggest races in California. The Santa Anita Handicap, the more prestigious of the two, was Game on Dude's first Grade 1 victory last year and started his rise to prominence. Signature Win Royal Delta has three Grade 1 victories, with her most impressive coming on the Breeders' Cup stage in the Ladies Classic last year. Game on Dude beat males, but Royal Delta won at the biggest stage. Advantage Royal Delta.
If Game on Dude has a weakness, it may be the mile and a quarter distance. He has won two big races at the distance, but he has had seven attempts. His tactical speed is dangerous at any distance, but he may be a little vulnerable against top quality horses going a mile and a quarter. Distance Capabilites Royal Delta was bred to run all day. Whether she runs in the Classic's mile and a quarter distance (2 for 3 record) or the Ladies Classic's mile and an eighth distance (4 for 7 record), Royal Delta should have no problem at the distance.

The winner is

2011 Breeders' Cup World Championships
Game on Dude
3 out of 5

As talented as these two horses are, Game on Dude's distance questions and Royal Delta's inconsistent current form make them both vulnerable in their respective events. If they face each other, look for Game on Dude's experience over the track to be the difference in a narrow victory over Royal Delta, but do not be surprised if someone such as Mucho Macho Man beats them both to the line, or if a horse such as: Awesome Feather, Questing, or My Miss Aurelia rains on Royal Delta's parade should she enter the Ladies Classic.

-Padraic Manocchio, Horse Racing Contributor

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