Mon, 11/05/2018 - 10:19

Unbeaten ‘TDN Rising Star’ Game Winner (Candy Ride {Arg})–hero of the GI Del Mar Futurity Sept. 3 and GI American Pharoah S. Sept. 29–overcame a rough trip to deliver a well-deserved, 2 1/4-length decision as the even-money favorite in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.


The bay, owned by Gary and Mary West and trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, cemented his status as the year’s top 2-year-old and early GI Kentucky Derby favorite in the ‘Future Stars Friday’ feature before a crowd of 42,249 on a chilly fall Friday afternoon at Churchill Downs.


Longshots Knicks Go (Paynter) and Signalman (General Quarters), one-two in Keeneland’s GI Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity, were second and third, respectively.


Game Winner, a $100,000 KEESEP yearling purchase by agent Ben Glass on behalf of the Wests, provided Baffert with his fourth Juvenile win.


“Talk about a rough trip!,” Baffert said after saddling his 15th Breeders’ Cup winner. “I was glad [jockey Joel Rosario] was patient with him. I felt a lot of pressure coming here because I have really thought a lot about this colt. I know he is a really good horse. He showed it today; he was much the best. I am so happy for Gary and Mary West. I felt more pressure because I told Gary ‘I don’t think they can beat us.’ They have put a lot into the game. This horse likes Churchill Downs; that’s a good sign. These races are hard to win. I have great crew and a great team and we got it done.”


Breaking from post nine, Game Winner took the first turn about four wide and settled into sixth beneath Rosario through a half-mile in a sharp :46.87 established by ‘TDN Rising Star’ and GI Champagne S. hero Complexity (Maclean’s Music). Covering all the ground throughout, the bay launched a three-wide blitz on the far turn, set his sights on the 40-1 Knicks Go at the top of the stretch, and, after taking a hard bump from that rival in the lane, forged clear late.


“He broke fine but it looked like they took my spot and I had to go wide,” said Rosario, who also guided home Jaywalk in the Juvenile Fillies. “He seemed like he didn’t mind that. He was comfortable. That’s why we got him moving at that point, instead of getting inside and taking back. Turning for home the more I rode him the more he gave it to me.”


Longtime prominent owners Gary and Mary West, featured in Friday’s Taking Stock Column, won their first Breeders’ Cup race with New Year’s Day (Street Cry {Ire}) in the 2013 Juvenile. West began his career in hospital administration and went on to build one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world. The Wests and Baffert will also be represented by West Coast (Flatter) in Saturday’s GI Breeders’ Cup Classic.


“It’s a pretty special experience to be involved in this sort of thing, to be involved in racing at the highest levels,” West said. “All the thanks goes to Ben Glass, our racing manager, who helps me pick out these horses, and Bob Baffert and Jimmy Barnes and his entire team who trains them.”


West continued, “It means a great deal to both Mary and I. Bob knows we’ve been in the game for about 40 years and we’ve had our share of disappointments. There’s more disappointments in horse racing than there are really euphoric moments, and you just have to kind of accept that.”


Game Winner earned his ‘Rising Star’ badge with a six-furlong debut win at Del Mar Aug. 18 prior to capturing his aforementioned pair of Grade I tallies.

Pedigree Notes:
Top sire Candy Ride (Arg) is also responsible for sensational 2017 Classic winner Gun Runner. Game Winner’s second dam, champion and dual Grade I- winning millionaire Fleet Indian (Indian Charlie), was privately purchased by Jane Lyon’s Summer Wind Farm after she RNA’d for $3.9 million at the 2007 Keeneland November Sale, carrying her first foal by Storm Cat. The resulting foal, a colt named Storm ‘n Indian, topped the 2009 Keeneland September sale when selling to Godolphin, then known as Darley, for $2.05 million. Fleet Indian’s second foal was Game Winner’s unraced dam Indyan Giving, whose first produce, a now 4-year-old gelding named Flagstaff (Speightstown), summoned $475,000 at the 2015 KEESEP sale. The winner is her third and final foal as the mare has since passed away.

SOURCE: TDN 11/2/18