Game On Dude punched his ticket to the Breeders' Cup Classic with a win in the Pacific Classic Stakes on Aug. 25 (Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswires)
Some things just get better with age. Game On Dude is showing that he fits that description with an undefeated 2013 record.
The gelding made history on Aug. 25 when he won the $1 million Pacific Classic Stakes by 8 ½ lengths, the largest margin of victory in the history of the race. He also became only the second horse to win the Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup Handicap and Pacific Classic Stakes in one year, the three top races for older horses in South California.
Game On Dude has competed in the last two Breeders’ Cup Classics and it looks like he will be returning this year as the Pacific Classic Stakes was a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Classic.
Game On Dude has turned into one of the top horses in the country over the last few years, winning 11 of his 15 starts since finishing fourth in the 2011 Pacific Classic.
GAME ON DUDE AFTER WINNING THE 2012 NATIVE DIVER
The gelding’s only off-the-board finishes since the 2011 Pacific Classic came in the 2012 Dubai World Cup and 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic. However, if you are having second thoughts about making Game On Dude your Breeders’ Cup Classic pick because of that information, be assured he already has proven he can be successful in the Classic. In 2011, he finished second to Drosselmeyer at Churchill Downs in that edition of the race. As for the race being held at Santa Anita Park this year, the same track at which he ran a dull seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Classic last year, Game On Dude has a record of seven wins in eight starts there.
The 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic seems to be an anomaly for the gelding, who has gone 6-for-6 since the race.
In fact, Game On Dude seems to be improving with age. While he has constantly run Equibase Speed Figures in the 100s since May 2010, since the Native Diver in December 2012 he hasn’t run a figure under 113. Game On Dude has put together the best figures of his career in his last three races, including this year’s Pacific Classic, bringing Equibase Speed Figures of 120 or higher. Even more impressive from a speed-figure standpoint, Game On Dude improved 12 points on his Equibase figure from last year’s Pacific Classic, in which he ran a 109, to this year’s edition, when he ran a 121.
With Game On Dude’s record at the 1 ¼-mile distance of the Breeders’ Cup Classic – five wins in 11 starts – and his sparkling record at Santa Anita, he should be able to make up for his performance last year in the Classic. There was no doubt that the race was uncharacteristic for the gelding and with his domination this year, it wouldn’t be surprising if Game On Dude finally gets his Breeders’ Cup Classic win.
Game On Dude is one of many horses in a long line of successful offspring from Awesome Again. Like Game On Dude, Awesome Again never won an Eclipse Award during his career, but he went undefeated as a 4-year-old year, including a win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Champions Ghostzapper and Ginger Punch, who both won Breeders’ Cup races, are among nine Awesome Again offspring who have earned $1 million or more during their career.
Game On Dude is out of Worldly Pleasure, a stakes-winning mare by Devil His Due. However, after Worldly Pleasure you have to go back to Game On Dude’s fourth generation to find another stakes winner - $239,487 earner Pleasure Connection and stakes winner Thisonefor Sue.
Game On Dude was gelded before Bob Baffert bought him for his connections in early 2010. There were probably many factors that went into the decision to geld him, but perhaps his lack of notable family standouts didn’t hinder that choice. It may have been the best decision any of the gelding’s connections have made, as it helped turn him into the horse he is today.
GAME ON DUDE AFTER FINISHING SEVENTH IN THE FLORIDA DERBY
Game On Dude has found another gear on the track this year and if that holds true through the fall, “Dude” will be the most popular word uttered when fans leave the track after the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 2.