Gary and Mary West’s Game Winner (Candy Ride {Arg}), tabbed a ‘TDN Rising Star’ after a debut victory at Del Mar Aug. 18, broke free of the shadow of his much-hyped stablemate and fellow ‘Rising Star’ Roadster (Quality Road) to win the GI Del Mar Futurity Sunday evening, giving trainer Bob Baffert his 14th victory in the race. Game Winner had 1 1/2 lengths on pacesetting Rowayton (Into Mischief) at the finish, with Roadster a half-length back in third.

“We’re an equal opportunity barn and sometimes I just throw them in there when they’re doing well and they even surprise me,” Baffert said after watching his 8-5 second choice best his 3-5 favorite.

Away well from his outside draw, Game Winner was unhurried early and dropped back toward the rear of the field as Rowayton tore away through a :22.53 quarter. Game Winner began to advance in tandem with Roadster passing a half in :45.35, but they both still had several lengths to find at the top of the lane. Rowayton, however, started to hit a wall inside the furlong grounds while never switching leads, and Game Winner, the less fancied of the two Bafferts, had the stronger late punch to take over in deep stretch and score by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:23.18.

“Going down the backside that other horse [Rowayton] was way out there and sometimes if you get out there like that you can steal a race,” Baffert said. “I just hoped my guys knew they were in good spots. I knew they’d have to sprint home. I knew coming in that [Game Winner] was coming back a little quick, but he’s a big strong heavy horse and I knew he could handle it. I’d rather run him again than keep working him.”

Game Winner went wire-to-wire for an eye-catching debut victory going six furlongs of the Del Mar track Aug. 18. He tuned up for the Futurity with a best-of-33 five-furlong drill in :59 3/5 and was shedding the blinkers for this second start.

Baffert had tabbed Roadster as his next superstar well before the gray colt had made his racetrack debut a winning one July 29.

“I’m a little disappointed in [Roadster], but it was only his second outing and sometimes the second out when you break their maidens they can get a little flat on you,” Baffert admitted.

Rowayton, a debut winner at Del Mar July 21, may have gotten an education Monday, according to the meet’s leading rider Drayden Van Dyke.

“That was the plan–to just go for it,” Van Dyke said. “He did and he ran good. He fought me on changing leads once more; he fought me on the right [lead]. But he’ll learn; he’ll get better.”

Pedigree Notes:

Game Winner’s dam Indyan Giving is a daughter of Eclipse champion Fleet Indian (Indian Charlie), who was acquired privately by Jane Lyon’s Summer Wind Farm after she RNA’d for $3.9 million while in foal to Storm Cat at the 2007 Keeneland November sale. That Storm Cat foal was a $2.05-million yearling purchase at the 2009 Keeneland September sale.

Fleet Indian died from complications of colic in 2011. The unraced Indyan Giving is her second foal and RNA’d for $385,000 at the 2010 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Game Winner is her most recent reported foal.

SOURCE: TDN

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