Game On Dude

Game On Dude

Benoit Photo

'The Dude' Retiring to Kentucky's Old Friends

Retirement facility abuzz with anticipation over pending arrival of California star.

Eight-time grade I winner and racing superstar Game on Dude is coming to Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Center in Georgetown, Ky., the farm announced Oct. 3.

Michael Blowen, founder and president of Old Friends, made the announcement.

"We are thrilled that Bob Baffert and the owners of Game on Dude are entrusting Old Friends with their spectacular racehorse," Blowen said in a statement. "It's such an honor to show him off to all of his fans and visitors.

"Now I know how the people of Cleveland felt when LeBron James signed with the Cavs," he added.

Campaigned by Baffert and owned by a partnership that includes Joe Torre's Diamond Pride, the Lanni Family Trust, Mercedes Stable, and Bernie Schiappa, the 7-year-old gelded son of Awesome Again  was retired from racing Sept. 18 following one of the most prestigious racing careers in Southern California history.

Game on Dude holds the distinction of being the only horse to ever capture three runnings of the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I). His Big 'Cap victory in 2014, his final win, came at a near-American record time of 1:58.17, which was the fastest time in the race's 79-year history. In addition, he is only the second horse in history to sweep California's three grade I handicapsthe Santa Anita Handicap, the Hollywood Gold Cup, and the Pacific Classicin the same year.

In his 34 career starts, Kentucky-bred Game on Dude, out of the stakes-winning Devil His Due mare Worldly Pleasure, recorded 16 wins and earnings of just under $6.5 million.

"It feels like we are sending our child off to camp for five years," said Baffert via telephone. "(My wife) Jill and I have been supporters of Old Friends and we really felt Game on Dude needed to be somewhere where he would be loved on. He is such a sweet horse, such a good soul, and we know there will be a lot of interaction there."

Currently, arrangements are being made for Dude's flight to Kentucky, and arrival times will be announced when they are confirmed. A press event as well as a public viewing will be scheduled.