Running a close second as the field reached the final turn at Santa Anita Park, storied thoroughbred Game On Dude started his charge toward winning a third consecutive Gold Cup.
Unfortunately for Game On Dude and jockey Mike Smith, so did the rest of the field.
Among those storming past Game On Dude was Majestic Harbor, a 14-to-1 longshot ridden by Tyler Baze that then broke clear and won the Grade I, $500,000 Gold Cup by six lengths Saturday.
Clubhouse Ride finished second in the 1 1/4-mile race, Imperative was third and Game on Dude, the 7-year-old with $6.4 million in career winnings, finished fourth.
For Majestic Harbor, a 6-year-old trained by Sean McCarthy and owned by Gallant Stables, the victory meant an automatic berth in the $5-million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 1, the premier race in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
“I knew we would win last week after I worked him,” Baze said. And McCarthy said of his jockey: “He didn’t get impatient, he didn’t get excited and when he pulled the trigger, that horse just responded.”
Game On Dude was the overwhelming favorite in Saturday’s seven-horse race, which formerly was run at the now-defunct Hollywood Park track in Inglewood.
Owned by a group that includes baseball’s Joe Torre and trained by the legendary Bob Baffert, Game On Dude broke from the gate at odds of 4-to-5 to win.
Fury Kapcori, ridden by Gary Stevens, was in front at a quick pace with Game On Dude trailing close behind down as they raced down the backstretch. When Smith moved Game On Dude alongside Fury Kapcori as they approached the fourth turn, both horses were overwhelmed by Majestic Harbor and the rest of the field.
“I didn’t want to be going that fast” before reaching the final stretch, Smith said.
Majestic Harbor paid $30.80 to win the Gold Cup, whose other former winners include such famous horses as Seabiscuit (1938), Native Diver (1965, ’66, ’67), Affirmed (1979) and Lava Man (2005, ’06, ’07).
Earlier in the day, Baffert’s Declassify won the Grade I, $300,000 Triple Bend Stakes at seven furlongs, or seven-eighths of a mile.
Declassify, ridden by Martin Garcia, chased down Cyclometer and jockey Edwin Maldonado just as they reached the wire and won by a nose. Declassify, which went off at 2-to-1 odds, paid $6.60 to win.
Sahara Sky, an even-money favorite with jockey Joe Talamo when the race began, came in last in the six-horse field.
Parranda, ridden by Elvis Trujillo, won the Grade II, $200,000 Royal Heroine Stakes at one mile on the turf.
Parranda came down the stretch side by side with Kathleen Rose, who was on the inside rail with Maldonado on board. Parranda hit the finish line first by a head and paid $6.20 to win after going off as the favorite at 2-to-1.
The Santa Anita meeting ends Sunday with a card that includes the 75th running of the Grade II San Juan Capistrano Stakes for 3-year-olds and older on the turf track. One of the favorites in the 1 3/4-mile race is Big Kick, ridden by Victor Espinoza.