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Dullahan catches Game On Dude to win Pacific Classic at Del Mar

DEL MAR — On a day the ground was shaking 137 miles away with a swarm of earthquakes near Brawley, the most powerful aftershock was felt down the stretch at Del Mar when Dullahan, a 3-year-old colt based on the East Coast, ran down 6-5 favorite Game On Dude to win the Grade I, $1-million TVG Pacific Classic by half a length.

It produced a memorable homecoming for jockey Joel Rosario, Southern California’s leading rider who left for New York at the end of June and came back on Sunday to ride the Polytrack-loving Dullahan, who set a track record by finishing the 1 1/4 miles in 1 minute 59.54 seconds. Richard’s Kid was third and Rail Trip finished fourth in front of 34,482.

“I love California,” Rosario said. “To come here and win this race means a lot.”

Dullahan, a son of Even the Score who went off at odds of 5-1, finished third in the Kentucky Derby. Trained by Dale Romans, he has won three Grade I races on synthetic surfaces with his closing style.

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“He’s a one-paced horse,” Rosario said. “He just goes and goes. When we went for home and I saw [Game On Dude] in front of me, I knew I had a big chance.”

Afterward, Game On Dude’s jockey, Chantal Sutherland, faced questions about dropping the left rein at the 16th pole and whether that had an effect on the race.

“It’s like a football player when they catch a ball and it juggles and they still catch it,” she said. “It’s not a big deal. The horse doesn’t need me to hold his head up. I didn’t want to grab it back. It would have wasted my time. I needed to pursue with my left hand. That’s why I left it there. I know it looks sloppy.”

Sutherland said dropping a rein hadn’t happened to her in 13 years. It was just another strange occurrence experienced by the Bob Baffert barn in the last week.

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First there was Richard’s Kid, trained by Baffert, being sold to an ownership group that transferred the horse to the barn of suspended trainer Doug O’Neill. On Wednesday, there was a verbal tit for tat played out in public view at a race drawing party between Baffert’s wife, Jill, and one of Richard’s Kid’s new owners, Mark Verge, the chief executive of Santa Anita. One handicapper dubbed it “Jerry Springer Week.”

“It’s just been a bizarre week,” Baffert said.

Baffert horses ran one-two in the $250,000 Pat O’Brien Stakes at seven furlongs, with Capital Account and jockey David Flores winning by half a length over Coil.

In the $200,000 Del Mar Mile on the turf, the Mike Mitchell-trained Obviously set a course record in edging Mr. Commons by a nose under jockey Joe Talamo. The time was 1:32.10.

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eric.sondheimer@latimes.com


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