Game Winner carried perfection to champion two-year-old male honors last year, winning all four starts including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), but the Bob Baffert-trained colt entered Saturday’s $150,000 Los Alamitos Derby (G3) with a three-race losing streak in 2019. Adding blinkers, the classy sophomore got back into the win column with a five-length triumph under regular rider Joel Rosario.
Game Winner was prepping for the $1.25 million Travers (G1) at Saratoga on August 24 and is owned by Gary and Mary West, who swept the Los Alamitos Derby-Travers in 2017 with West Coast, one of three Travers winners for Hall of Famer Baffert.
Kingly, a stakes-winning stablemate of Game Winner, showed speed at the break of the 1 1/8-mile race and led by a clear margin through the opening half-mile over 35-1 outsider Parsimony. Game Winner, the 1-9 favorite among nine rivals, stalked in third until the far turn.
Parsimony, who was winless from 12 starts but had raced in three stakes, advanced to overhaul Kingly midway on the far turn and entered the long stretch run with a short lead. But Game Winner had advanced three wide to a threatening position and struck the front inside the eighth-pole. Parsimony tried to battle back along the inside but Game Winner had plenty left to win going away in the end, stopping the teletimer in 1:48.30.
Game Winner was exiting an extremely wide journey in the Kentucky Derby (G1) over a sloppy track, rallying fast belatedly to finish 3 3/4 lengths back in sixth (elevated to fifth via disqualification). A three-time Grade 1 winner as a juvenile, the early Kentucky Derby favorite opened his three-year-old season with a nose second to Omaha Beach in the second division of the Rebel (G2) in mid-March and followed with a half-length second to Roadster in the Santa Anita Derby (G1).
A bay son of Candy Ride, Game Winner was bred in Kentucky by Summer Wind Equine and sold for $110,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September sale. He’s out of the unraced A.P. Indy mare Indyan Giving, a daughter of 2006 champion older female Fleet Indian, and Game Winner has now earned $2,027,500 from 8-5-2-0 record.