09/19/2014 1:11PM

Owner sensed Game On Dude's racing days were done


After watching Game On Dude finish fourth in both the Gold Cup at Santa Anita in June and the Pacific Classic at Del Mar in August, co-owner Bernie Schiappa said on Friday that the time had come to end the 7-year-old gelding’s illustrious racing career.

Thursday, trainer Bob Baffert announced Game On Dude would be retired after a career of 16 wins in 34 starts, earnings of $6,498,893, and eight Grade 1 wins from 2011 to earlier this year.

“There is no sense doing something you don’t feel comfortable doing,” Schiappa said. “He could have run if we wanted to. We had a wonderful run and had a wonderful horse. We were honored to have a horse like that.”

Retirement plans for Game On Dude are under discussion, Schiappa said. Schiappa said it is likely that Game On Dude will be sent to a horse retirement farm. Schiappa co-owns Game On Dude with Debbie Lanni, Joe Torre, and Ernie Moody.

“I’d like people to be able to go and see him,” Schiappa said. “He won’t be a riding horse or a jumping horse.”

Southern California racing fans are likely to have at least one more opportunity to see Game On Dude. There have been discussions about a public appearance for Game On Dude during the Sept. 27 program at Santa Anita, Schiappa said.

Santa Anita was Game On Dude’s favorite track. He is the only horse to win three runnings of the Santa Anita Handicap, the track’s signature race for older horses, doing so in 2011, 2013, and earlier this year. The Santa Anita Handicap in March was Game On Dude’s final victory.

Game On Dude was beaten 5 1/4 lengths by Shared Belief in the Pacific Classic after racing on the lead through a fast pace and yielding the lead in early stretch. Prior to Thursday’s announcement, Game On Dude was considered a candidate for the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 1.

“If we couldn’t make the Breeders’ Cup, we didn’t want to do it,” Baffert said. “It was a tough call to retire him.”

Game On Dude is the best horse in recent memory not to win an Eclipse Award although he was positioned at the end of 2012 and 2013 to claim the Horse of the Year title approaching the BC Classic.

Game On Dude rose to prominence in 2011, winning the Santa Anita Handicap for the first time and finishing second in the BC Classic at Churchill Downs.

In 2012, Game On Dude won four stakes, including the Hollywood Gold Cup, but finished seventh in the BC Classic at Santa Anita as the 6-5 favorite. Game On Dude won his next six starts, from December 2012 through August 2013, and was the 8-5 favorite in the BC Classic at Santa Anita last November. He finished ninth, 11 lengths behind winner Mucho Macho Man.

Baffert said on Thursday that the recent losses convinced him that Game On Dude should be retired.

“He’s gotten beat three races in a row and it’s not fun for the horse,” Baffert said. “He’s been too good for us. When he was great, he was great.”


Quite a More than 1 year ago
He was a victim of hot paces in all his recent starts. He needs a lead and reasonable early fractions.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
The first requirement for greatness is that a horse must actually race. The fact a horse has elite talent doesn't mean much if it rarely, if ever, runs. Nor can a horse make it into the Hall of Fame without significant accomplishments, without a number of cornerstone victories. The Dude's remarkable soundness and durability allowed him to make a high number of starts in the most important of races. And he won a good share of them. In my opinion, no single region has a series of classic distance maintrack races for older horses like California. The first in the series is the 10 furlong grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap in early March. Next is the 10 furlong grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup in early July, then the 10 furlong grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar at the end of August, and finally the 9 furlong grade 1 Awesome Again at Santa Anita in late September. In 2012 and 2013 (and this year) the Breeder's Cup Classic made it 5 major races. From January of 2011 thru late-August of 2014, there were 17 maintrack grade 1 races beyond a mile open to older males; there were 4 such events in 2011, 5 in 2012(the BC Classic made it 5), 5 in 2013(BC Classic), and 3 so far this year. Game on Dude started in 15 of them! Think about that. Even if we look at only one year at a time, to make almost all of the races in the series a horse basically must be healthy from January until early November, so almost the entire year. Now, think about a horse doing that for almost 4 complete years. And even if we include the upcoming editions of the Awesome Again and BC Classic to make it 4 full years, running 15 of 19 is still remarkable. For those in the East and Midwest, a comparable series of races could include the Donn, Stephen Foster, Whitney, Jockey Club Gold Cup, and BC Classic. Imagine a horse making at least 4 of those races in a year. I think we would all agree that the horse would be made of hickory. But now image that horse running this schedule for 4 years! I know the Eastern version calls for far more travel than the SoCal series, but keep in mind the variety of surfaces Dude had to deal with during his career- The 3 Big Caps, 2 Awesome Agains, 2 BC Classics, and the 2014 Gold Cup were run over the Santa Anita dirt. The 3 Hollywood Gold Cups from 2011-2013 were run over Cushion Track, and the 4 Pacific Classics were held on Del Mar's Polytrack. The difference between the Santa Anita dirt and Del Mar Poly could hardly be more stark. By remaining sound and holding his form for so long, Dude gave himself the opportunity for significant accomplishments. And, in fact, Dude often came through. Of the 15 races in the series that Dude made, he won 8(all grade 1s of course). From the Gold Cup of 2012 to this year's Big Cap, Dude won 6 of the 10 events offered(of which he ran in 9). Since the creation of the Pacific Classic in 1991, only Lava Man had a more dominant stretch(from the 2006 Big Cap to the 2007 Hollywood Gold Cup, Lava Man won all 6 races offered). And if we limit our analysis to the Big Cap and Gold Cup, the two races offered for decades before the appearance of the Awesome Again and Pac Classic, Game on Dude is rivaled only by Lava Man as the most dominant maintrack older male(classic distance) in Cali history. If that sounds a stretch, keep in mind that Dude and Lava Man are two of only 4 horses to win multiple runnings of the Big Cap, and 2 of 3 horses to win multiple runnings of the Gold Cup, and are the only two horses to win multiple runnings of both. Dude is only stablemate First Dude's dino-head away(in 2011 Gold Cup) from being the only horse to win 3 runnings of both the Big Cap and Gold Cup. Also keep in mind that Dude holds the record for largest margin of victory for both the Big Cap and Pacific Classic, holds the stakes record(time) for the Big Cap, and in the 2013 Hollywood Gold Cup became the first horse in 30 years to win with as much as 127 lbs. The Dude has earned his retirement, and one day will take his place in the Hall of Fame(although he may have to wait a little while).
Jordan More than 1 year ago
I've been attending the races since 1989. The first 10 years were in southern California, the next 10 years in the upper midwest, and the last 5 have been back in SoCal. I have attended, at least once, most of the major races in North America from the Triple Crown events to the Breeder's Cup, the Met Mile, Stephen Foster, Arlington Million, Woodbine Mile, Canadian Intl, Big Cap, Hollywood Gold Cup, Pacific Classic among many others. Of all the wonderful horses I have seen run in person, no horse won as many times with me present as Game on Dude. I witnessed 11 of Dude's wins, all graded stakes, including his 8 grade 1s. He is a ways down on the list of horses I've seen in person when it comes to pure talent and the ability to perform under adversity in the biggest of events. But he just kept showing up for big race after big race, year after year.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Baffert Top 5 1. Silver charm 2. Point Given 3. Game on dude 4. Real Quiet 5. Silverbulletday
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
Great list rahman. I'd like to add Thirtyslews just because he was instrumental in Baffert rising. He won the BC Sprint and put Baffert on the map.
Mark D More than 1 year ago
I would put Real Quite over Game on Dude. Extra points for Triple Crown wins. When you think about it....what horse would have you rather have owned???
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
I would take GOD and his 7 million in earnings...3 Big cap wins.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Good list. I liked Point Given over Silver Charm.
Kay Morris More than 1 year ago
I was at this years Santa Anita Handicap and the place was going wild cheering on Game On Dude to his third Big Cap. I hadn't heard unison cheers like that since the old wonderful Zenyatta days....Have a wonderful retirement big guy, we here in So. Cal LOVE YOU!!!!!
[removed] More than 1 year ago
This comment has been deleted
Chris Lowe More than 1 year ago
Flagged again spambot.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Purchased a Chevrolet....bahahaha...
Jack More than 1 year ago
Bayern is Baffert's next Game on Dude. This is the cycle of racing.
Dee R. Eff More than 1 year ago
That's impossible as he will probably be retired this year after a dismal showing in the Classic.
Forego137 More than 1 year ago
Game On Dude had a great run and provided slot of thrills to the racing fan's, enjoy your retirement Dude. Much deserved, Thanks for the memories.
Jd Staton More than 1 year ago
best race horse ever
Steve More than 1 year ago
Big Rob stud More than 1 year ago
Ann Maree More than 1 year ago
I know they said they don't want to give him a second career, but, wouldn't he enjoy something like being a pony horse, like Lava Man?
Slew32A More than 1 year ago
I'll ask him.
redboy More than 1 year ago
What did he say ?
Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
"Show me the oats".