Las Vegas, NV - Betfair Hollywood Park will be the scene of the Grade 3 Native Diver Handicap this Saturday, December 1. Horses three years old and upward will go 1 1/8 miles on Hollywood Park's all weather track as they chase their share of the $250,000 purse.
A small but quality field of five has been entered in the Native Diver - three of which participated in the Breeders' Cup Classic. It is race 4 on Hollywood Park's Saturday card with a post time of 2:01 PM. Here is a brief look at the past performances of all eight combatants ahead of this Grade 3 race.
Game on Dude is a multiple Grade 1 winner that is in the thick of the Horse of the Year conversation. He rebounded very nicely from a disappointing twelfth in the Dubai World Cup with a terrific win in the Grade 2 Californian Stakes on June 2 over Kettle Corn and then followed it up with another impressive score in the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup July 7. He was a decent second in the Grade 1 Pacific Stakes and again proved his worth with a win in the Grade 1 Awesome Again here September 29. Last time out however was his most disappointing result in some time - a well beaten seventh as 6-5 favorite in the Breeders' Cup Classic. But that makes four wins in seven starts this year with one second. He nearly did enough to capture the Eclipse Award for Outstanding older males in 2011 with three graded stakes wins- the Goodwood Stakes and the Santa Anita Handicap and he finished second in last year's Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs prior to Dubai. Bob Baffert trained Game On Dude has placed in 11 of his last 14 starts and is the class of this field despite a pedestrian performance last time out.
Richard's Kid - was an OK third in the Grade 1 Awesome Again behind Game on Dude after another third in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic right behind Game on Dude again. He had a win before that in the Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap on July 27 to follow another second to Game On Dude in the Hollywood Gold Cup and a win in the minor Prove It Stakes. Last time out was a fifth ahead of Game On Dude in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Richard's Kid had placed in five straight races before the Breeders' including two wins and appears in good form ahead of this latest showdown with Game on Dude.
Nonios - has raced in six straight graded stakes races - he debuted in the Grade 3 Affirmed and impressively defeated the likes of Liaison and followed it up with another impressive result - a second in the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes on July 4. He posted another good second in the Grade 1 Haskell at Monmouth on July 29 before a somewhat disappointing fifth in the Grade 1 Travers. He was a very good second in the Grade 1 Awesome Again two back behind... Game On Dude. Last time out was a sixth in the Breeders' Cup Classic ahead of Game On Dude and behind Richard's Kid.
Kettle Corn - has placed in 10 of his last 11 starts including a win in his graded stakes debut - last year's Grade 3 Native Diver on December 3, a third to Morning Line and Prayer for Relief in the Mervyn Leroy in May, a close second to Game on Dude in the Californian Stakes in June and a third in the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup July 7 behind... you guessed it - Game on Dude and Richard's Kid. His last four starts have been OK - a third in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap July 28, a second in the minor Harry F. Brubaker Stakes September 1, a fourth in the Grade 2 Arroyo Seco Mile October 6 and an Allowance score last time out here November 8. He has been looking good and deserves some consideration as the defending champion in this race.
Make Music for Me - is the long shot in this race - 26 starts and only four wins. Most recently Make Music for Me won an Allowance on this track after a fifth in a similar race on April 27 here.