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- Trainer: Bob Baffert
- Likely Jockey: Joel Rosario
- Owner: Gary and Mary West
- Age & Breeding: 2yo c; Candy Ride – Indyan Giving (A.P. Indy)
- Season Form Figures: 111
- Career Highlight: Back-to-back Grade 1 wins
By Peter Fornatale
Game Winner first came to most people’s attention as the “other Baffert” colt in the Del Mar Futurity. At 8-5 he was well-backed into the teeth of his odds-on stablemate Roadster, the latter having been so impressive in his troubled maiden win. But Game Winner stole the show, scoring in a solid time figure, albeit with the help of a perfect wide trip on a racing surface where that was where you wanted to be.
Previously he’d shown his promise in winning his maiden at first asking, having galloped in a visually impressive score. That win looks all the more impressive in retrospect given that the field outside of him his run back five times since with two winners and a third. His colors will look familiar to many fans. The Wests have owned a number of good ones over the years including fellow Baffert trainer West Coast, who ran so well in last year’s Classic and this year’s Pegasus and will be trying to right the ship in the big race this year.
Since the Futurity, Game Winner has consolidated his gains, demonstrating that he’s the real deal in the process. Last time out he ran an improved race in the American Pharoah. He was bet off the boards and ran to those odds, faster early on than in his previous starts while still having plenty in the tank late and earning a fast figure overall. He’s worked well since and looks on track to give a good account of himself.
It’s notable to some extent that neither of the white-haired wonder’s recent Triple Crown winners contested the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. The Pharoah was out with a minor injury and late bloomer Justify hadn’t made his first afternoon racecourse appearance by last November. But in both instances these horses not winning at the Breeders' Cup feel circumstantial rather than causal. He has won the race twice, with New Year’s Day back in 2013 and Midshipman back in 2008.
Game Winner heads to Churchill Downs a deserving favorite and at odds if 7/4, looks better value as a back than a lay, especially if his preparations continue in a positive way.