10/07/2014 1:18PM

Game On Dude, Amazombie arrive at Old Friends

Nicole Russo
Amazombie, an earner of $1.92 million, at Old Friends farm on Tuesday.

Three-time Santa Anita Handicap winner Game On Dude and Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner and champion Amazombie arrived Tuesday afternoon at Old Friends equine retirement farm in Georgetown, Ky.

The two geldings were on the same flight from California to Kentucky, and then shared a van for the trip from Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport to Old Friends.

“I think they’re buddies now,” Old Friends founder and president Michael Blowen said as he supervised the unloading of the horses, adding that both traveled well.

Game On Dude, by Awesome Again, won 16 of 34 starts, including 14 graded stakes, earning $6,498,893. His bankroll makes him the richest Old Friends resident.

Trained throughout his career by Bob Baffert for an ownership group that included Diamond Pride LLC, the Lanni Family Trust, Mercedes Stable, and Bernie Schiappa, Game On Dude won the Santa Anita Handicap in 2011, 2013, and 2014, making him the only horse to ever win the historic race three times. He scored five other Grade 1 victories, taking two editions each of the Hollywood Gold Cup and Goodwood/Awesome Again Stakes, and winning the Pacific Classic.

Game On Dude placed in seven graded stakes, including a runner-up effort in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic, the best of his three efforts in that race.

Blowen said he had had several conversations with Baffert between Game On Dude’s retirement last month and his arrival at Old Friends.

“He was very, very specific about the kinds of questions he asked [and interested] about the care the horses would receive,” Blowen said. “[He wanted to know] how far are you from Rood & Riddle [Equine Hospital] and Hagyard [Equine Medical Institute], who’s your vet, what do you feed them. I was really impressed by the quality of questions and the specificity of them. We had four or five conversations.”

Amazombie won seven stakes and placed in six others, earning $1,920,378. The Northern Afleet gelding reached his peak in the fall of 2011, when, after a pair of Grade 1 placings at Del Mar, he won the Grade 1 Ancient Title Stakes at Santa Anita, then shipped to Churchill Downs to win the Breeders' Cup Sprint by a neck. The strong finish earned him the Eclipse Award as champion sprinter.

Amazombie added a third career Grade 1 the following summer in the Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar. The gelding was trained throughout his career by Bill Spawr, who co-owned him with Thomas Sanford.

Amazombie becomes one of several Breeders’ Cup winners to call Old Friends home, joining current residents Gulch and Eldaafer and the deceased Black Tie Affair, Fraise, Precisionist, Prized, and Sunshine Forever.

Blowen called being entrusted with both geldings “a testament to [Old Friends’] great volunteers.”

Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
Drosselmeyer? You happy ending destroyer… Eat your heart out. Game over!!! ;-)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
From Mr. Blowen's comment about his conversations with Bob Baffert about the care Game on Dude will receive, it is obvious that he cares a great deal. I'm sure the Dude will be greatly missed in the barn. Wishing both Dude and Amazombie (a personal favorite of mine) a very long, very happy retirement.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great story and a happy retirement for these two fine racehorses. Reading it really brought a smile to my face. I'm overdue for a return trip to the Saratoga location of Old Friends at Cabin Creek. If you love these animals, you'll be totally in awe when one of them comes over and snatches a peppermint out of your hand or nods their head looking for a gentle hand in return. I'd read that Commentator was a handful as a racehorse and was nervous when I approached him. He quickly showed the disposition of a puppy and we became fast friends. I'm looking forward to a future in racing when the $5k claimers and horses who never even made it to the races can have a dignified post racetrack life. They all run their hearts out for our pleasure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I still can't figure out why my posts show as "anonymous" most of the time even though I'm logged in both on Yahoo and DRF.com. James/Saratogafan
Amy Hurley More than 1 year ago
Well put. We do follow the big stakes horses and hope for a good retirement for them, but ALL horses deserve a happy post-track life. And, as Anonymous/James points out, that should extend to the never-raced Thoroughbreds as well. Anyway, fond wishes out to Game On Dude, a personal favorite.
Diane Hain More than 1 year ago
I've never met a human star who left me star struck, but several horses who did! You are so right.
Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
May be some interesting paddock sprints in the mornings. Been very warm in Cali and got right cool over the weekend in Lexington. Glad to see both of these horses make it all the way thru the game. Here's to them all...
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Be fun to watch.
Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
And safe trips to all.
Patrick De Vito More than 1 year ago
If not mistaken, I believe PRIZED is also at Old Friends? He won the BC Turf in 1989 for Neil Drysdale, after defeating Sunday Silence in the Swaps Stakes earlier that summer. I remember seeing his ornery self there about 2-3 years ago ,Maybe he has passed on?
John Bradley More than 1 year ago
Patrick, Prized passed away a few months ago at age 28. All the staff and volunteers at Old Friends miss him very much, we felt honored to care for him in his final years.
David G. More than 1 year ago
Not only did he win it, he was making his debut on turf
Em Duett More than 1 year ago
What a thrill to see Dude and 'Zombie come off the van at the farm.. Dude looks great and, posed for the media like the pro. he is. We're happy to have him here in Kentucky, and once he acclimates, he will be a happy horse to call Old Friends farm. "Zombie, too.