The race favorite for the Breeders' Cup Classic, Game On Dude lost more than the race with his seventh-place finish at Santa Anita. Judging from polls for the sport's divisional leaders and writers' comments, that race almost certainly chucked the gelding's chances of a championship out the window.
Yet on Saturday at Hollywood Park, Game On Dude was back in the starting gate for the Grade 3 Native Diver Handicap at nine furlongs. The bay son of leading sire Awesome Again duly ran his race and pushed his earnings to more than $3.1 million from 10 victories in 22 races.
For the second year in a row, the BC Classic apparently has cost Game On Dude an Eclipse Award, after finishing second in that race last year and losing the older horse division in 2011 to Acclamation, but 2012 was unquestionably a grand year for the racehorse and his connections. Game On Dude has won five of his eight starts, including a pair of G1s (Hollywood Gold Cup, Awesome Again), a pair of G2s (Californian, San Antonio), and the G3 Native Diver. He was also a close second in the G1 TVG Pacific Classic to Dullahan and had a pair of unplaced efforts. In addition to the dream crusher mentioned above, Game On Dude ran an even flatter race in Dubai to finish 12th in the World Cup.
Even so, Game On Dude has been good to all associated with him, and he is a fast, tough, and game racer who should carry his form into next season and enliven the racing in 2013.
Game On Dude is also the leading money earner bred and sold by his breeder, Adena Springs. A multiple Eclipse Award winner as leading breeder, Adena has sold a sizable portion of its annual foal crop, primarily at yearling and 2-year-old in training sales. After more than a decade of this practice, Adena has auctioned off Game On Dude, Bay to Bay, Bourbon Bay, and other good performers.
Bred in Kentucky by Adena, Game On Dude was sent through the Keeneland September sale in 2008 and was bid in at $210,000. Game On Dude raced for Kuehne Racing in his first three starts, after which he was privately acquired by his current owners, which include Joe Torre, former manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees.
Game On Dude has proven himself the star offspring of his stakes-winning dam, Worldly Pleasure, a daughter of leading racer and good sire Devil His Due (by Devil's Bag).
A winner of the restricted Politely Stakes, Worldly Pleasure was bred in Maryland by Robert Ingham. Adena bred three foals out of the mare, and her first foal is West Spirit (Smart Strike), a winner in Russia who has since been exported to Korea. Game On Dude was the second, and Northland Express, by English Derby winner North Light, was the third.
Then in 2009, when Game On Dude was a 2-year-old, the farm consigned Worldly Pleasure to the November breeding stock sale at Keeneland and sold her in foal to Macho Uno (Holy Bull) for $15,000 to KOID, an exporter for the breeding market in Korea. The mare's 2-year-old colt by Macho Uno was foaled Feb. 8 and is named My Key. In the colt's third start, he won a 1,200 meter race on Nov. 23 and had been third in his previous start.
Worldly Pleasure has a yearling bay filly, born March 8 last year, by BC Classic winner Volponi, who is at stud in Korea. Both foals were bred by Nokwon Mokjang.
The mating with Macho Uno possesses added interest because that 2-year-old champion is a half-brother to Awesome Again and has been a thoroughly useful stallion based at Adena in Kentucky, where he stands along with Awesome Again, his champion son Ghostzapper, and fan favorite Einstein.
Game On Dude is one of 49 stakes winners by Awesome Again, who will stand for $75,000 at Adena in 2013. The attractive and well-balanced bay is the most successful living son of his sire, Deputy Minister, and Awesome Again was arguably his sire's best racing son too.
A winner in nine of 12 starts, including the Breeders' Cup Classic, Awesome Again earned $4,374,590 while racing at 3 and 4. His other premium victories included the Whitney Stakes at Saratoga, and the Canadian-bred Awesome Again was probably the best winner of the Queen's Plate since Northern Dancer, who won the Plate nearly 50 years ago.
In addition to Horse of the Year Ghostzapper, Awesome Again has sired 11 other G1 winners that include champion Ginger Punch (BC Distaff, Ruffian, Ogden Phipps), Wilko (BC Juvenile), and Round Pond (BC Distaff, Acorn). This season, the stallion also has G1 winner Paynter (Haskell, second in the Belmont Stakes).
In addition to their class, one of the most notable qualities of the stock by Awesome Again is toughness, as witnessed by the evergreen Awesome Gem, a G1 winner who is stilling winning graded stakes in 2012 at age 9.
Frank Mitchell is author of Racehorse Breeding Theories, as well as the book Great Breeders and Their Methods: The Hancocks. In addition to writing the column “Sires and Dams” in Daily Racing Form for nearly 15 years, he has contributed articles to Thoroughbred Daily News, Thoroughbred Times, Thoroughbred Record, International Thoroughbred, and other major publications. In addition, Frank is a private consultant to breeders on pedigrees, matings, and conformation. He is a hands-on caretaker of his own broodmares and foals in central Kentucky. Check out Frank's lively Bloodstock in the Bluegrass blog.
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