10/03/2014 11:41AM

Game On Dude to reside at Old Friends

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Barbara D. Livingston
Game On Dude is the only horse to win the Santa Anita Handicap three times.

Game On Dude, recently retired after a stellar career that included an unprecedented three victories in the Santa Anita Handicap, will spend his retirement at Old Friends Farm in Georgetown, Ky., the horse’s co-owner, Bernie Schiappa, said Friday.

Game On Dude, a 7-year-old gelding, was fourth in the Pacific Classic in his last start Aug. 25 at Del Mar. Last month, Schiappa, his ownership partners, and trainer Bob Baffert decided to retire Game On Dude, ending a career that saw him win $6,498,893, with 16 victories from 34 starts. He was feted with a retirement ceremony at Santa Anita last Saturday.

Schiappa said he had considered several proposals before deciding that Old Friends was the best spot for Game On Dude.

“He’ll have a good life there,” Schiappa said. “I like the way they handle things.”

Schiappa said he was particularly impressed with Michael Blowen, the founder of Old Friends, who oversees the retirement of the many horses on the property.

“He seems like a good guy,” Schiappa said.

Blowen, a former film critic for The Boston Globe, founded Old Friends in 2003.

Schiappa said Game On Dude likely will fly to Kentucky next week, pending the schedule of an equine charter taking horses from California to Kentucky. In the meantime, Game On Dude has been jogging at Santa Anita as Baffert has him wind down from the rigors of racing.

Game On Dude won eight Grade 1 races, including three victories in the Santa Anita Handicap, two in the Hollywood Gold Cup, and one in the Pacific Classic. He also won the Goodwood and, after it was renamed, the Awesome Again.

Game On Dude ran three times in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, his best finish a second in 2011 at Churchill Downs. In both 2012 and 2013 at Santa Anita, he was in position to be named Horse of the Year and champion older horse, but losses in those BC Classics were penalized by Eclipse Award voters and cost him championship honors.

At Old Friends, Game On Dude will join the likes of Commentator, Fabulous Strike, Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Gulch, Belmont Stakes winner Sarava, and two-time Pacific Classic winner Tinners Way.