How 'Dude' Should Be Viewed

Pat Riley, president of the Miami Heat, delivered some pretty inspirational comments to players on his team this past week, especially those who may be thinking about leaving the organization following the Heat’s five-game decimation at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs.

“We’ve got to get a grip on greatness,” Riley said. “It’s about what we have built over four years here, and we have a chance to do something significant…But losing is just as much a part of it as winning, and when you’re a team you deal with it….we have a tremendous opportunity here for long-term success, but don’t think that we’re not going to get beat again. Get a grip, everybody.”

This is going to sound strange, but Riley’s comments made me think of Game On Dude. That’s right, Game On Dude, the horse whose numerous outstanding achievements over the past four to five years are overshadowed by his two flops in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Game On Dude should be known for his unprecedented three Santa Anita Handicap victories; known for becoming only the second horse in history to sweep California’s three grade I handicaps (Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup, and Pacific Classic) in the same year; known for his 14 graded stakes victories; known for running 1 1/4 miles in a near-American record 1:58 as a 7-year-old; and known for amassing $6.4 million in earnings.

But what he is known mostly for is running poorly in the last two Breeders’ Cup Classics on his home track and blowing any chance at Horse of the Year. Switching to the NFL, the Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings both had great teams over a period of years, but are remembered for losing four Super Bowls – in the 1990s and 1970s, respectively – rather than their impressive feat of getting to four Super Bowls during one decade.

But, you know what? Game On Dude is back again this year, and, who knows, he may be back again next year. The horse who refuses to grow old managed to not only win the Big Cap for the third time this year, he ran the fastest time in the race’s 79-year history and came within a fifth of a second of Spectacular Bid’s American record.

Does Game On Dude have any fan clubs? Does he have a Facebook page? Does he tweet? Does Santa Anita give out any Game On Dude posters or buttons? You can guess the answers to those questions.

To repeat Riley’s words, “We’ve got to get a grip on greatness. Losing is just as much a part of it as winning. Don’t think we’re not going to get beat again.”

Heck, Game On Dude might get beat this weekend in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita, who knows? That’s right, Game On Dude is running this weekend.

Kelso, Forego, and John Henry, arguably the three greatest geldings of our time, or perhaps of all time, lost 91 races among them. In Kelso’s Horse of the Year clinching races, whether it was the Woodward Stakes, Jockey Club Gold Cup, or Washington D.C. International, he faced an average of 6.3 opponents, not all of them top-quality stakes horses. These three titans of the turf earned their Horse of the Year titles based on body of work, and even when it came down to one big race in September or October, they had one, two, or at the most three really top-class stakes winners with whom to contend, not 10 or 11 foes, most of whom were grade I stakes horses, as Game On Dude has.

Now, I acknowledge his two Breeders’ Cup misadventures at Santa Anita are puzzling, not because he lost, but because he seemed a shell of himself, for reasons unknown. In his other Classic appearance, he finished a gutsy second at Churchill Downs, in which he never saw the previous year’s Belmont Stakes winner Drosselmeyer flying way out in the middle of the track.

I also acknowledge that Game On Dude has for the most part remained in California, competing against basically the same group of horses, rather than travel east to race in major events such as the Whitney, Woodward or Jockey Club Gold Cup against better quality competition. Although I, like many, would love to have seen him compete in at least one of those races, in some ways you can blame the Breeders’ Cup for having the event at his home track of Santa Anita five of the past seven years. What a welcome addition he would be to Saratoga or even Belmont Park’s Super Saturday.

We have to face the facts that the goal of trainers and owners now is to get to the Breeders’ Cup the easiest way possible. And that often means staying home rather than travel cross-country. Back in the days of Kelso and Forego, all big races were $100,000 and there was no lure of a big championship day. If the best horses were in California in a particular year and the Breeders’ Cup were in New York (yeah, right), do you really think trainers like Todd Pletcher, Bill Mott, and Shug McGaughey would send their horses to compete at Santa Anita and run against better horses and then ship them back home?

Game On Dude did run in the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs, did travel halfway around the world to Dubai, did journey to Charles Town three times for their Classic, and did fly to Churchill Downs for the Clark Handicap after last year’s Breeders’ Cup, getting beat a head by eventual 3-year-old champion Will Take Charge, who had beaten him by almost 11 lengths in the Classic. He has also been to Lone Star Park twice and broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park.

In the realm of great horses, we accepted Swaps running 18 of his 25 career starts in California, none in New York, and high-tailing back home after winning the Kentucky Derby instead of giving Nashua a rematch in the Preakness and/or Belmont Stakes. We accepted Zenyatta running 17 of her 20 career starts not only in California, but on a synthetic surface. We accepted the fact that Lava Man could not pick his feet up outside California. We accepted the fact that Native Diver raced outside California only once in 81 career starts. Still, these horses were greatly admired.

Perhaps, with exception of Zenyatta, that is why they are not ranked higher among the list of great horses. No one is claiming Game On Dude deserves any more when rating great horses. But he certainly does not deserve any less, considering all he has accomplished. Horse of the Year has been his to win or lose the past two years and that is what his connections strive for – to be in that position.

We have already accepted the fact that California Chrome likely is going to prep for the Classic at, of all places, Los Alamitos, instead of coming to Saratoga or Belmont Park. Bad for racing, but good for the Breeders’ Cup. That’s’where the money is and where championships are won. For the past two years, Wise Dan has not accomplished anything remotely close to what Game On Dude has when it comes to winning prestigious, historic races. But because he wins the Breeders’ Cup Mile, the votes come pouring in for Horse of the Year. Apparently, running in the same races each year against many of the same horses at mostly the same distance can be forgiven when you win the Breeders’ Cup, but losing the Breeders’ Cup cannot, even when you have a stronger resume the rest of the year.

Wise Dan did what he had to and beat all comers on the one weekend where all his Horse of the Year competitors – Game On Dude, Royal Delta, Princess of Sylmar, Point of Entry, Flat Out, and Palace Malice – managed to get beat; most of them soundly. More power to him.

The bottom line is, it is time to recognize the achievements of Game On Dude and not focus only on his two inexplicable performances in the Classic. You don’t have to be great to do great things, and Game On Dude has accomplished enough great things to be remembered for what he’s done and not what he hasn’t done.

“We’ve got to get a grip on greatness.”


Leave a Comment:

spectacular bid

GREAT always. racing fans are amazing sometimes. we boo hoo that the great horses are retired mid way thru there 3 year old year, then we get someone like "dude" people want to tear him down insted of enjoying the ride. I hope dude wins races till hes 9..ala john henry. then hoping he goes to old friends or some other place where he can be an ambassador for the sport

24 Jun 2014 7:36 PM

Ahhhh, Steve. All I can say is you are so right, as always. Game On Dude is my favorite horse in training right now. I've wondered myself why Santa Anita hasn't offered any "giveaways" for Game On Dude. I would happily take home a G.O.D. poster, button or t-shirt. Agreed his two Santa Anita Breeders' Cup Classic runs were puzzling, but he's still a nice race horse. Thanks for this article, 'Duuuude!

24 Jun 2014 7:54 PM

Cheers to Game on Dude! He is one of our favorites. It is such a pleasure to be able to follow him year after year. He took even a more special place when Baffert said it hurt his feelings when people spoke negatively about the horse after the Breeders Cup. He said the horse was so sweet and gentle; that kids could pet him. It was like someone talking bad about your child. Thank you for recognizing his achievements!

24 Jun 2014 7:56 PM
mike brown

Hey Steve - are u desperate for an article? To name the Dude in the same breath as the all-time greats?

24 Jun 2014 8:07 PM

Respect him, I will........but he's no John Henry! Maybe he'll cop an attitude and win the big race in November;it is possible amongst the "suspect" younger generations!

24 Jun 2014 8:10 PM

You got it right. Love the geldings and that was a whuppin' he out on MMM and WTC in the Big Cap. He gets no respect, similar to another popular California horse whom is getting a rest. :)

24 Jun 2014 8:10 PM
Steve Haskin

Mike, actually it was not in the same breath. I exhaled for a while before I mentioned Game on Dude. So, while it was in the same article it was not in the same breath. For example, Leonardo Da Vinci. There, I just mentioned you and Da Vinci in the same comment, but hardly in the same breath :).

24 Jun 2014 8:18 PM

I like the Dude but for me he lacks some of the gutsy intangibles of a Lava Man or Zenyatta.  He's a dangerous horse when he breaks well and gets his own way.  Found it hard to root for him once Chantal Sutherland lost the ride on him and went into a tailspin.  Too add insult to injury she was replaced by Mike Smith.  Of course none of that is the horse's fault.  His run in this year's Big Cap was a surprise and something to behold (at a price even).  He is a really good horse who just doesn't stir the emotions for me.  I still can't figure out how he lost the Pacific Classic and Breeder's Cup to Dullahan, who is not exactly the 2nd coming of Man O' War.

24 Jun 2014 8:22 PM

Great Horse. Great article. Thank you.

24 Jun 2014 8:30 PM

I agree, I love the Dude.  When he shows up, no one can beat him...

24 Jun 2014 8:33 PM
Steel Dragon

Great achievement is often overshadowed by failure. I think Custer was unbeaten before Little Big Horn.

"Look...over the hill...I think they're friendly Indians"

24 Jun 2014 9:58 PM
Eric Rickard

Thank you for stating what should be obvious. He gets my respect, but also has me scratching my head. I don't buy the wins only on an uncontested lead. He has won when pressured.  He just has me shaking my head sometimes.

24 Jun 2014 10:02 PM
Seabiscrateriat O' War

Beautiful story but I don't get the downgrading of Wise Dan towards the end of the article. Not his fault that there aren't historic races run at a mile on turf. Game On Dude is a wonderful athlete and I was so proud of him as he powered home in the Big 'Cap.

24 Jun 2014 10:08 PM

I'm SO happy you wrote this article. I'm tired of defending this wonderful gelding, who's only blemish is being entered in the BC Classic, seems it's a curse for him. I now believe,if your horse has a perfect year, don't lay it on the line at the Breeder's Cup. Ask Princess of Sylmar,she WAS at the top of the list for an eclipse award. For some odd reason, many fans are critical of Game On Dude. Actually, racing fans in general {my opinion} are far too critical of the horses who risk it all for our entertainment. I think any horse who lasts more than 3 seasons deserves respect. Game On Dude is a warrior and a winner, his losses SHOULD be overlooked, but this is 2014. This generation is hard to please. Everything is fast and easy. Work is a dirty word and people today want perfection in a New York minute. Appreciation for everything has been lost along the way. At times, I think some fans forget that the ponies are flesh and blood creatures. I'm a Dude fan, the harder people are on him, the more I like him. I hope he stays sound and continues to race and win. Perhaps they should leave the BC off his schedule this year, or maybe he'll kick everyone's butt and win it. This is horse racing. Either way, I appreciate the Dude for his accomplishments. If he doesn't win another race, I'll still be a fan. Thanks again for the great piece of writing.

24 Jun 2014 10:21 PM

Thank you Steve for giving Game On Dude some MUCH deserved credit!  I don't understand why he is not's a mystery!  I thought he deserved Horse of the Year last year and he would have gotten my vote.  It is crazy some of the things I have read about him from so called "fans" of racing and some of the very things he has been criticized for are the same things they praised Wise Dan for.  I truly have been thinking for awhile though that someone needs to make crystal clear to the Eclipse voters that even though the Breeders Cup calls itself the "championship", it is NOT actually so.  It is just a series of Grade 1 races and it carries far too much weight in the year end voting.  

24 Jun 2014 10:25 PM

We have grown to love Game On Dude.  Every Funnie I draw of him, I just marvel at what he has done, and what he hasn't accomplished, it never crosses my mind.  World Class writing as usual Steve.  Always a great read

24 Jun 2014 11:04 PM
Thoroughbreds are the best

"Dude" is a wonderful horse and has done very well in his career, however he hasn't danced at the big venues in important races.  Really West Virginia, multiple times, Lone Star?   Yes, it was accepted that Swaps ran most of his races in Calfornia, but Swaps won THE 3 year old race outside of California.  He also had a most interesting cast of characters surrounding him.  Native Diver is not a name that is associated by most as one of the all time greats unless you are from California, Lava Man is remembered by many as a horse that couldn't win outside of California.  I'm not all that sure how history will reflect on Zenyatta.  She had an incredible record, but she raced very infrequently and many feel her connections orchestrated her campaign seeming to avoid challenges. Perhaps it is due to recently reading your books on Dr. Fager and Kelso has left me with a different perspective of what is great. I think Dude is a wonderful racehorse and one worthy of appreciation, but he has a ways to go before he will go down as a great one.  But let's continue to enjoy him and cheer him on.  For that matter, we need to appreciate all of them as they do what they are bred to do.  Racing horses is then a work of art and a beautiful sport.

24 Jun 2014 11:24 PM

Hey this article on the Dude. He has a lot of loyal fans. There is just something about certain horses that captivate our hearts and Dude is one of them. There is always a lot to be said about these horses like Game on Dude who keep on racing year after year. The measure of greatness is not always winning but how the race is run and Game on Dude can still thrill us.

24 Jun 2014 11:35 PM
md reynolds

Steve, your article is spot on! Love The DUDE!

24 Jun 2014 11:48 PM
Paula Higgins

First, I can't stop laughing about your comment to Mike Brown. VERY funny. This is a really nice article and I mean that in the literal sense. Game On Dude is a very, very good horse and it makes me happy to see him acknowledged for his accomplishments. The fact that he is also a sweetheart gives us more reason to love him. Many of us have been in his corner for quite a while now, including me. It was hard to see him struggle but when he shines, he really shines. He is a great horse when you add it all up. If you think of all the horses who have set foot on the track, how many have his record? Very few. I hope he continues to race as long as he is happy and accumulates more wins for his legacy, which is pretty impressive already.

I have always been a proponent of the half glass full theory instead of the glass half empty view. This is why I value horses like Curlin who never won the Triple Crown, Zenyatta who rarely raced outside California, Rachel Alexandra who had problems in 2010, Gio Ponti who was primarily a grass horse, California Chrome who just missed the Triple Crown, Mucho Macho Man, another horse who has been inconsistent but with bursts of brilliance, and Game On Dude ditto. These horses ran their hearts out for us and what they did accomplish was impressive and historic from any perspective. We need to appreciate them. Greatness has many forms, not just one. It would be pretty boring if it did.

25 Jun 2014 12:02 AM

Steve congrat’s for a great article.

First of all we need to put thing in prospective, to see how great Game ON Dude “The Dude” is.

Allow me to start with Secretariat, he could do anything (duel, press or come from way out of it) and dominate the field.

Ole Man John also could do something similar to Secretariat but mostly on turf and dominate.

The Dude is a front runner (most of the time) and there is no horse now who runs on dirt that can even come close to lighting a candle to him in a match race, hence, their only chance is to beat him in a race where some trainer is willing to sacrifice another horse (who may not have any chance of beating The Dude) to press The Dude just for the sake of winning.

Now I usually never criticize Baffert, but, in this case of all the riders who have ridden The Dude, he only is able to relax then Martin is riding him and some credit also has to go to Chantal for that, but, Mike is not able to do that no matter how good a rider he is.

So my point is they have been great horses who were beaten in a race when a setup rabbit was inserted (and by the way that could really hurt the rabbit for the rest of his life). Speaking of that hopefully we see Blueskienrainbows back to himself.

Hence when a rabbit is in a race and they run a mile and quarter race in 108 and change, that does not mean that the 2 horses that ran the ¾ in 108 n change are not great.

I hope Baffert gets some sponsors (maybe Steve can even use his influence and organize it) and we see a match race with another horse that a trainer might think that they can beat The Dude. My guess will be that (I hate to not use the correct word B***) they will just see his heels all the way on a dirt track.

25 Jun 2014 12:20 AM

Thank you Steve, for bringing up the Dude.  He's a personal favorite, both on the track and in the barn.  He's got that "something" when he's on, and you KNOW he won't be beat.  But when he throws the occasional clunker, he gets lambasted from here to eternity.  Other horses are allowed to be "off their game," have "bad racing luck" or a host of other excuses, but not the Dude.  Seriously think he's overdue for HOY.

25 Jun 2014 12:30 AM
Lisa in SB

Funny, I am a huge racing fan, check the BloodHorse site at least once a day, always read Steve Haskin's articles, and frequently read the comments, but have never bothered to create account to post my own.  I did for this one. I love The Dude and have always wondered, over the many years I've followed him, why he doesn't get more respect and press.  Yes, he has to be on the lead to win.  Yes, he doesn't know how to rate, etc., etc.  But he gives his all every time on the track, he is undeniably FAST (usually carrying top weight), and we get to follow him year after year.  I love this horse.  I think he epitomizes the best things about racing, and this sport should celebrate him.

25 Jun 2014 1:11 AM

Game on Dude is a nice horse,  but that is where it ends.  It's hard for me to think of him in the same class as some of the above mentioned horses. However,  he is a gelding and will probably race until he's  15 or so..the fact the he's still sound, is more than I can say for alot of horses.

25 Jun 2014 2:02 AM

As I'm sure your aware Steve, many race fans in the east are very resistant to giving west coast tracks or horses much respect at all. I don't know if that attitude will ever change but I do know Game On Dude has repeatedly provided true race fans with some thrilling performances and that the sport is better off because of his involvement.

25 Jun 2014 2:03 AM

I had the great privilege of painting the winner of the 2013 Pacific Classic for the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.  I had quietly hoped and prayed it would be "him," and he did not disappoint.  I have photographed all his races in California, and it isn't until after I look at those pictures that I am always reminded how very special he is.  He goes out with a lead pony, very quiet, head often bowed.  And many times you cannot see him on the other side of the pony and  you realize that he is not big.  He goes into the gate, never gives anyone any trouble.  But he comes out literally flying.  He is magnificent and you can see a determined eye within his blinkers.  He runs his race and even when he wins, afterwards he bows his head.  I can tell it is him from a distance by his lowered head, as if he has done his best and now, well, he is done. I visited him at Bob Baffert's stable to get reference photos for the painting and you can see the great regard with which he is held.  There is simply no kinder nor gentler horse. And it is hard to get a photo where his head is higher than his back! He is the color of freshly ground coffee.

I have painted him 4 times so far, but I am not done.  This is a great horse.  He is the definition of a great horse.  He is seven years old and still racing and beating "the best" in the Breeders' Cup Classic.  He races and wins on different surfaces, not just grass.  I saw, and loved, Native Diver as a kid. The crowds that came out for Native Diver would have loved and appreciated Game On Dude.      

25 Jun 2014 2:07 AM
Amy Hurley

Very well said, as usual, Steve.  GOD is my favorite horse in training and it's hard to understand not just the disrespect that so many so-called horse racing fans display toward him, but the apparent hate they have for him.  I suspect a lot of it is due to an anti-Calif. bias, as you seem to suggest, as well as the usual Baffert bashers having their say.  But GOD has accomplished so much, and his wins in the '13 Big Cap and Pacific Classic were devastating displays.  He may not have a fan club or Facebook page, but there are a LOT of fans who appreciate this great (yes, I'll say it) gelding.

25 Jun 2014 2:17 AM

perhaps the problem is the vast majority of voters equate having to win a bc race with getting an eclipse. owners are following the money so thereugo

25 Jun 2014 4:26 AM

ps...I'm glad u felt the need to differentiate between "geldings" and "horses." Mr. Riley is my idol in the (TM) dept.

25 Jun 2014 4:29 AM
Pedigree Ann

The Dude, like Dr. Fager, is vulnerable when he has somebody of decent class pushing him on the front end going 10f. If he ends up going a sub-1:10 6f with pressure, he will wilt and most often in the BC Classic there will be somebody who will go with him. Not always, viz CD in 2011. And I would like to point out that all defeats are not equal. Being beaten a head, while carrying more weight (remember weight? it is what makes a handicap a handicap) is NOT equivalent to backing up to last. Or even fifth. The concept of a laudable performance in defeat seems to be lost on many in today's culture ("only winners count!")

25 Jun 2014 4:53 AM

Wonderful article.  Love Ga me on Dude & hope he continues to run well for a few more years as he is exciting to watch.

25 Jun 2014 8:29 AM
Steve Haskin

SOW, I never downgraded Wise Dan. I merely stated Game On Dude won many more historic and prestigious races, but failed in the BC, whereas Wise Dan did not, and that is what voters go by when filling out their ballots.

25 Jun 2014 9:48 AM
Steve Haskin

To those who disagree that Game on Dude is one of the great horses, where did I say he was one of the greats? I even said "you don't have to be great to do great things." This is about his accomplishments not being appreciated and about how we perceive greatness.

25 Jun 2014 9:52 AM
Shelby's Best Pal

Dude has kind of been "the forgotten man."  I didn't even realize he was running in the Gold Cup.  Thank you for focusing some attention on a deserving horse.  Still sad that the Gold Cup isn't at Hollywood Park.  I attended several Gold Cups there over the years and have some great memories.

25 Jun 2014 9:57 AM

Thank you for writing this, Steve. Too many people are focused on only winning and/or winning one race. Dude is a particular favorite of mine, but each time he loses the Classic, I see his HOY chances fly away even though he has a better overall record than most runners each year. Game On Dude should be a fan favorite. You're missing out if you aren't in his corner.

25 Jun 2014 10:22 AM
It aint easy being good!

I feel like GOD is a second stringer. He has never won a classic, never won any of the triple crown races. When he faces real horses he folds. He is a front runner that is one dimensional! Hard to back a horse like this. Curlin ran on turf, synthetics, dirt....gravel if you would let him. Get him out of retirement and he could whip GOD right now.

25 Jun 2014 10:44 AM

Mr Haskins,

Oh how I admire jocularity! Your Da Vinci retort reminded me of a horse lesson I was taught that was similarly jocular, straightforward and brilliant simultaneously.

Off topic a bit, but the characters were all aged geldings so I will presume that is enough in similarity to be allowed to sidetrack a bit, in addition it is about running.

As a purveyor of trail rides; head to tail walks in the scenically beautiful high desert, we were always plagued by people that wanted to run while on the rides. Two problems with this; 1) the riders were were barely skilled enough to stay aboard at a walk and 2) the horses were not trained to run, they were bombproof at a walk but all bets were off at any other speed.

Even though riders had been told at sign up and again been reminded at pre-boarding that running wasn't allowed they still wanted to run. The pre-boarding speech included a reference to racing, "We don't run and I will remind you that where horses do run with riders on their backs they are followed by an ambulance, since an ambulance isn't going to be following us we won't be running", fear factor tactic that usually went in one ear and out the other. Nonetheless we were in a constant battle to keep people from running. The usual time we were really challenged was when we were on the way back to the barn. Almost all horses have some kind of magnetic attraction to home base, maybe an invisible elastic string that pulls them back home. Regardless, the worst habit a trail horse can develop is to become barn sour. If one of them gets away with going fast on the way back to the barn for two or three consecutive instances it can take hundreds of times to correct it or may never be corrected at all. Also the horses act as a group and if one starts running they all want to run and a disaster is inevitable.

We leased most of our trail horses from an outfit in Colorado that has a herd of several thousand horses; they lease to all kinds of trail riding outfits, dude ranches, scout camps and any other endeavor that needs bombproof riding horses. Rex, the owner of the horse leasing company also operates several dozen trail riding outfits and dude ranches. He was on a business trip in our locale and decided to take time out from business and come ride with us. We were fairly new to the trail riding business and we were anxious to go riding with Rex, have a chance to pick is brain, especially in regard to how to stop/deter the people from wanting to run. To clearly understand his method it must be noted that every horse on the ride wears a thin rope halter with a permanently attached lead rope underneath their bridle. Once the rider is mounted the lead rope is slip knotted around the saddle horn with plenty of slack for the horse to move his head freely. We asked Rex, "How do stop people from wanting to run when out riding"?, his reply, "You don't". We were perplexed. We asked, "You let them run"?  He replied, "Nope. Just tell them to untie the lead rope and hand it to you and tell them to get off the horse and start running. Be sure and tell them not to worry, the group will catch up before to long".

25 Jun 2014 11:02 AM
Linda in Texas

Steve and Dude appreciators. He is 7 and still racing. Where are all the other 7 year old greats? Don't talk about Game on Dude in the same sentence with horses that retired to stud the minute they won a big race. If you read Steve's blogs you know i will defend Dude.

Like i love Lava Man and enjoy anything posted about him. How many 7 year old stallions in the breeding sheds won close to 7 million on the tracks? People aren't drawn to the races by the stallions in the breeding sheds. They are drawn to the tracks to see consistency, two races lost do not constitute inconsistency. Fans show for Game on Dude.

But i imagine the California Stigma once again is the determinate for those east of Lexington. Can't we just all agree to get along and appreciate something like Game on Dude? Thank you Steve. I would love to see Game on Dude journey to Saratoga along with California Chrome. Now that would be a nice drawing card and the folks who go to Saratoga would no doubt appreciate  their presence, probably won't materialize but i can dream. And i am a Yankee Fan so i feel i am fair to the east coasters and my grandmother lived in Brooklyn! And spectacular bid, Racingfan, ksweatman9, dear Paula Higgins and Windolin et al agree with and appreciate your kinds words about him. Thank you Steve.

25 Jun 2014 11:26 AM
Linda in Texas

NFC - are your paintings of Game On Dude available for purchase? Your written thoughts about him are no different than my own, but i am not an artist. Thanks for your description of him. Very nice.

25 Jun 2014 11:31 AM

Steve, thank you for writing about Game On Dude.  He's always been a personal favorite of mine, since he was a 3-year-old.  Putting aside the BC losses, the racing outside of CA, etc. etc.... I choose to focus on the positive... the fact that this gutsy 7-year-old gelding continues to race at the Grade I level.  As another reader wrote, let's "enjoy the ride" and celebrate the fact that we get to watch a great horse year after year.

25 Jun 2014 11:37 AM

Again Steve great points & observations.

I had made my points about The Dude earlier, but, like to add the following:

What Baffert had said (not quoting exact words) after the Santa Anita Hcp when he easily trashed WTC & MMM "I just sat down holding my head & let the fans enjoy the whole stretch run".

Is there any horse in training right now who can CHALLENGE The Dude in a match race? If so I would appreciate those trainers/owners to put their money where their mouth is.

Another point not related here is that “Chrome” is the only one who may be able to come close to The Dude in the future, too bad that he had that foot injury during the Belmont, and else the story would be totally different.

25 Jun 2014 11:48 AM
yoemite dancer

Steve, A well thought and written article. G.O.D. is a horse that anyone would be proud to own.By the way, what is great? G.O.D.'s wire to wire victory this year WAS great. It was exciting to see the "ol man" upset M.M.M. and W.T.C.

I've seen Native Dancer, Tom Fool,Bold Ruler, Forego, John Henry and Secretariat among others. They were all great in their own way.They all gave their all, just as Dude has done. Nobody wins all the time.

25 Jun 2014 1:51 PM
dance with fate

Yea!!  Thank you for this recognition of Game on Dude.  " Love looks not with the eyes but with the heart."  That's why certain less-celebrated horses become special. Forgive me, but the song Wind Beneath My Wings occurred to me - GoD and others being in the shadows a bit to the more 'glam' guys of racing.  Love them all & their stories - a magnificent tapestry that is the world of thoroughbreds.  Mr. Haskin, you weave it so well.  

25 Jun 2014 2:39 PM

I'll say it again, the Breeders cup is detrimental to the health of the sport.

25 Jun 2014 2:49 PM
Crystal Ryan

I never counted it against the dude! Bring on the fb page!

25 Jun 2014 2:51 PM
Old Old Cat

Steve, you never fail to come up with a new topic to generate interest.

There are horses we love for whatever reasons, and there are horses that we respect for their accomplishments.  Sometimes they are the same horse, sometimes not.  Greatness is when the entire population RESPECTS a horse for its record, love is when we follow a horse regardless of (or in spite of) its record.

I love Wildcat Red because I think he has guts.  As you have pointed out maybe he is lacking the breeding for the classics, but that does not diminish my feelings.

When we try to quantify the race racords of past and present warriors, remember this:  Give credit to a horse for every challenger he beat, and also throw in all the would-be challengers whose trainers and owners were too timid to enter the playing field.

25 Jun 2014 2:54 PM

Great article, but I disagree with the comment that Saratoga and Belmont would welcome Game On Dude.  From reading past blogs, New Yorkers don't like any horse that races in California.

25 Jun 2014 6:53 PM

Great read today Steve. You nailed it quite well, for the Dude. We may be a little early to highlight his racing record, since he is sound,healthy and still in competition. The Best Is Yet To come.  Keep on truckin, Dude.

25 Jun 2014 7:06 PM

NFC, Thank you for your wonderful post. You did a lovely job of putting your brush strokes into words. I have come to the conclusion that "GREAT" is much like beauty, it lies in the eyes of the beholder. It's neither black nor white, but gray. We are exhausting our efforts to define greatness. Perhaps it can't be defined. It is, how we see it.

25 Jun 2014 8:25 PM
Paula Higgins

Some great comments here. Linda in Texas well said and much appreciated. Pedigree Ann you are so right about people not being able to appreciate the incredible performances of horses that didn't win. I know this gets old, but I will point to Zenyatta's 2010 Breeders Cup Classic, which is to me her greatest race. Rachel Alexandra in 2010 delivered some of the gutsiest races I have ever seen-when she lost. Remember Seattle Slew? Horses define greatness in many different ways and sometimes it is how they lost the race, rather than by winning it. Old Old Cat a very good observation that we can love horses for different reasons, respect them for different reasons and sometimes love and respect them altogether. Some horses make a big impact over a very brief period of time and others, continue to be inconsistent with bursts of brilliance that accumulate over time. When you think about the number of thoroughbreds born every year, Game On Dude may not be great in the mold of Dr. Fager, Secretariat etc., but he is a great horse in many respects.

25 Jun 2014 9:12 PM

I often wonder why so many choose to recognize the failing of something or the fault of another and how they justify their lack of knowledge and yet feel so liberal to make a negative statement and look at the subject and offer rude and sour critique and remarks as they focus on a "great" finish that simply turns out to be the lesser.  It saddens me that they should want to boast and boldly announce their enjoyment in seeing a defeat of a "great" horse and tells me that they have their own issues and can not run in the "Game" of Dude.  There are those that await a loss of such a powerfully and serene creature and carry labels of "I told you so; I told you he's finished" as they seek greatness of their own.....Great - a highly overused word that is handed out easily throughout the day and for so many reasons but in the case of "Game on Dude" so well deserved for unfailing performances that have thrilled most of us in racing.  He is a stately figure in the racing world and a true competitor that holds his own place in one that so many just pass through.  Sure D.Wayne holds on to him - they are one in the same - professionals and old-timers that have been the backbone of racing before "Facebook" and "Tweets".  

Yes, Steve - getting a "grip on greatness" is the best doctors's advice here and thank you for educating those that do not know how to use the term.    

25 Jun 2014 9:42 PM
lawrence vaccarelli

"like a bullet ! john henry !"...just love those old timers that keep on go "game on dude"

25 Jun 2014 10:35 PM

I've always admired the horse, and grant that he's very talented. His stakes wins resume and earnings are top notch, and if one didn't look any further it could suggest that he is a great, or near-great. But what keeps him from being acknowledged as such is precisely for the reasons you mistakenly infer about Kelso, Forego, etc. Unlike them, Game On Dude rarely, if ever, was victorious against truly high caliber horses. Until this year, Twirling Candy was the best horse he defeated-and Twirling Candy had a very troubled trip in that race. OK, this year he did defeat Mucho Macho Man, and Lucas' good Unbridled Song colt, but they ran sub-par, and neither has since evidenced a truly top horse profile. Compare this with the horses defeated by Kelso and Forego, number of participants notwithstanding. I know you didn't label him as great, but here's the real reason. And, to mention Swaps in any comparative sense is affording Dude well more than his due.  

25 Jun 2014 11:07 PM

"If he ends up going a sub-1:10 6f with pressure, he will wilt and most often in the BC Classic there will be somebody who will go with him. "

No offense ,meant here but just a correction that The Dude went 109.39 on March 8 in this years Santa Anita handicap and won going a mile and a quarter, beating the likes of Will Take Charge & Mucho Macho Man soundly while being geared down.

I'm not stating that The Dude is great, but, currently there is no top handicap who can beat him in a match race & the only way he can get beat (and that is hoping) is to put in a rabbit & I do not like sacrificing(there are many rabbits who have never come back the same again) a horse just to prevent another one to win.

25 Jun 2014 11:07 PM

Where oh where would the racing world be without all of the great California horses?

25 Jun 2014 11:19 PM

Thanks for putting things into perspective.  G.O.D has always been such a solid athlete and I have looked forward to his past races and have never been disappointed.  More power to him for staying in the game as long as he has.  

25 Jun 2014 11:23 PM
Ta Wee

Well said Steve.  It's nice to see a top notch older horse still perform at the highest level.  Too bad Secretariat didn't hang around to take on the late-developing Forego from the same crop.  In recent times, I always thought Afleet Alex and Ghostbuster would've been a great rivalry had they stayed sound.

26 Jun 2014 12:14 AM
Steel Dragon

People like a horse that they can cash a ticket on, no matter where he's from.  The sport does not exist without the toteboard.  In fact, the entire breed does not exist without the toteboard.

26 Jun 2014 12:46 AM
Linda in Texas

Hi Kristen - I only mentioned Saratoga, not Belmont.

Saratoga's month of racing to me or in my opinion is nothing like Belmont. Saratoga is just a different world unto itself and is usually very receptive to all who journey there to participate in and enjoy the summer month of The August into Labor Day Races. I understand the why of your comment and hope some day that will change.    

26 Jun 2014 12:59 AM

Don't tell my wife, but Paula Higgins, I think I love you.  You are spot on and really comment with perspective.  Part of the joy of the game is sharing it with others who "get it."  Thank you.

26 Jun 2014 1:26 AM

Thank you for this important point of view. It brought to mind a wonderful book called "The Eagle and the Plum," the story of what the author calls "America's toughest thoroughbreds." Also, loved your comment to Mike Brown.

26 Jun 2014 9:40 AM


I cannot help but to believe a significant portion of your submission addressed some of the points cited in my deleted submission. My submission was not meant to offend but rather to put into context how I view G.O.D. The Moderate and others clearly have differing opinions and I respect those opinions. I revisited my submission and cannot identify any semblance of rudeness.

My analysis of G.O.D. was based on his total résumé. Are there set parameters to determine greatness?  Is the status applied objectively or subjectively? The answers to these questions are important. If there are no set standards then a résumé can the presented to support any conclusion desired. The failures will be minimized, success over highlighted and mitigating factors ignored.

I overwhelmingly agree that the term ‘Great’ is used rather randomly these days. Its random use is not dissimilar to use of the term ‘Hero’ subsequent 911.

Pat Riley referred to getting a grip on greatness about a team the won two NBA titles from four visits to the finals. If the truth be told, it was not greatness that led to Miami’s second NBA title but rather the sloppiness of the Spurs in game 6 of the 2013 finals. If greatness is achieved through the deficiency of others then I apologize for holding greatness to a higher standard.

The Miami team on display in the 2014 finals was nowhere near great. Miami’s only victory in the 5 games contested was by 2 points. However, they were defeats by an average of 20 points even with home court advantage in two games. Remove L. James from the line up and the team loses upward of 40% of its offence. How can Miami be conceivably viewed as a great team when it fails to be competitive without its leading player? A great team should never be confused with a great collection of individuals with two of the three high paid stars taking intervals at disappearing in games.

What greatness was Mr. Riley referencing?  He could have only been referring to the Spurs and his comments were misunderstood by the media.

G.O.D achievements cannot be under scored. Many accolades have bestowed on him. I happen to disagree with the one labeling him as great. Many folks view greatness differently and this does not mean they are unappreciative of the achievements of the gelding. One should never be demonized for having a different opinion.

“It saddens me that they should want to boast and boldly announce their enjoyment in seeing a defeat of a "great" horse”

Gamblers love winners as they provide returns on investments. The enjoyment comes from winning and not in the defeat of a particular horse great or not. Contrary to your belief no one sits and wait for a particular horse to loose. The defeat of a big favorite is likely to lead to lucrative payouts. There will always those that retain the option of bragging rights without malicious intents.

26 Jun 2014 12:33 PM

I like Dude, he's a nice horse, but he needs to step it more against the top competitors. At this point, I'd rather have Wise Dan--who is a GREAT horse and delivers in the spotlight. As for the poster who compared Dude to Dr. Fager, I'm still amused. Dr. Fager crossed the wire behind only three horses ever, all champions: Buckpasser, Successor, and Damascus. Dude has finished behind quite a few lesser horses. That said, I'd like to see him win the BC Classic this year.

26 Jun 2014 2:53 PM
Paula Higgins

Thank you Lava'sStillthe Man and back at you! I think most of us love horses and respect them for every effort they make for us and Steve epitomizes that in every column he writes. It's getting to be so bad for me that I even think it's cute when California Chrome starts nipping at people's fingers. It's called unconditional love for these horses who leave nothing on the field/track for those of us who love the sport.

26 Jun 2014 3:05 PM

The "rating" of the "greatness" of a race horse is subjective - always has been and always will be.  There is no objective way of measuring them against each other unless they actually raced one another, which is unfortunately impossible for those from different eras. For those currently racing, in my opinion there are still complications in trying to compare two horses. Any race with other horses present does not necessarily prove who is the better of two, as one may have gotten an inferior "trip" due to any sort of interference.  It would actually take a number of races against one another or multiple match races to determine who is superior. One race would not provide enough data since one horse could be having an "off" day. For example, the match race with Seabiscuit and War Admiral.  Even though the Biscuit won, probably not many outside of his connections actually believed he was the better horse.  Even Alfred Vanderbilt who arranged the race, later stated that he had regrets about it because word was that the Admiral was not at his best but the owner felt locked into running by the publicity.  So, as a result all we are left with is our own opinions and we all may not agree but that does not make any of us incorrect.  Different people define "greatness" differently.  The one thing that does irritate me in these types of discussions is inconsistency.  Whatever an individuals criteria is, it should be universally applied in my opinion.  As for me, I believe in different levels of "greatness". To me, Game On Dude is a great horse, as is Wise Dan.  They have met my criteria for that "level".  In my opinion, the "who has he beat?" excuse does not influence it.  In most top races, there are one or two (sometime three) real stand out runners and the rest are at various levels below them. That is the case all throughout history in looking at "who" even our most cherished runners faced.  After the level of "great" for me, then comes the "All Time Great" horses which are those who accomplished above and beyond in some way but not necessarily all of them in the "same" way. They are the legends of the sport who we all compare the rest to: Native Dancer, Man O' War, Secretariat, Citation, Spectacular Bid, Kelso, Dr Fager, etc etc.  For me, Game On Dude and Wise Dan are not there - yet.  That decision cannot come until their careers have concluded and their overall accomplishments are evaluated.  But really, why should we care "if" the horse is great and if so, at what level?  If you are a horse lover and a racing fan, then why have "negativity" and sometimes an apparent "animosity" toward a horse who is out there doing his job for our enjoyment...?  I love them ALL and thoroughly enjoy watching them run, but I do root harder for my special favorites and love to see them do well and get credit for their accomplishments.

26 Jun 2014 11:07 PM
Paula Higgins

lisa123, stop being amused. No one is comparing Game On Dude to Dr. Fager in terms of their relative greatness. Every single person who posts here understands the difference.

26 Jun 2014 11:25 PM

To put it simply, this is an honest and great article.

27 Jun 2014 12:46 AM
food fight

This is a very talented horse know disputing this fact.But i would grade this horse like this at race tracks conducive to speed and races that he can control the early fractions and cruise without pressure he is very difficult to beat no matter whom he faces, but when forced to run out of his comfort zone such as traveling to other race tracks and having to run into pressured pace scenarios he more often than not cracks and folds this is his Achilles heal. So he will be remembered for his brilliance in California and also for his predictability when running outside his comfort zones as mentioned above.      

27 Jun 2014 9:20 AM
Steel Dragon

For the most part Forego wasn't racing against great horses. That's why there was 25 pounds of lead packed in his saddle.

27 Jun 2014 10:22 AM
Smoking Baby

Racingfan.  NAILED IT (Your June 26th 11:07 Post).  Good job.

I like how you mentioned inconsistency in appying criteria.  I'd bet many of the same folks focusing on Game On Dude's Breeder's Cup losses will call Easy Goer great while giving him a pass for losing four of the five most important races he ran in.

And before anyone starts in on me, I'm not saying Game On Dude is in Easy Goer's league(far from it).  For the record Easy Goer IS on my short list of great horses.  My point is how we often give the horses we like for whatever reason a pass for the same faults we find in the one's we don't.

Totally off topic but writing about Easy Goer made me think of epic battles.  Was anyone at Churchill yesterday morning when Dale Romans and Tammy mixed it up with the Indian Charlie writer?  I heard it wasn't exactly Ali/Frazier but was pretty entertaining.

27 Jun 2014 10:38 AM
Smoking Baby

This just occurred to me.  I'm writing this as I wrap my head around the thought so forgive me if it's a bit disjointed.  

Imagine a horse who wins a couple Grade 2, million dollars races 3,000 miles away from his home base.  Add to that accomplishment a second place in the Breeders Cup Classic (Gr.1), as well as the Clark Hcp. (Gr.1) beaten a head to the eventual 3 year old champion.  It bears mentioning that both of THESE races are at least 2,000 miles away from the horse's home base.  Now add that this horse has made over $2,000,000 dollars (probably closer to 3, too lazy to research the exact amount).  Wouldn't this be considered a pretty nice horse that anyone would love to have in their barn?

The fact is, Game On Dude has accomplished more OUTSIDE of California than the vast majority of horses ever do at home.  While I'm not saying he's among the greats, his accomplishments away from his home state are certainly nothing to sneeze at.

27 Jun 2014 11:50 AM
Kaye from PA

Very well said!!

27 Jun 2014 2:10 PM
Steel Dragon

In baseball, they refer to some guys as "compilers" - like Don Sutton or maybe Dave Winfield. They have very long and productive careers without really dominating and wind up in the Hall of Fame because of their career totals. Is Game On Dude the equine version of a compiler?

27 Jun 2014 6:36 PM

Game On Dude may never achieve the mantle of greatness worn by Kelso, John Henry and Forego, to name a few of the great geldings of yesteryear, but, how can any racehorse fan not respect his accomplishments?  As Steve pointed out, except for two inexplicably poor performances in the BC Classic, Dude would likely be a 2-time HOY.  He is fast, durable, has won graded stakes races every year since 2010, including 8 G1 and has a healthy bank roll.  Any trainer would love to have a horse like this in his barn.

I'm looking forward to watching him do his thing again tomorrow.  GO DUDE!

27 Jun 2014 9:57 PM

That's a good question, Steel Dragon.  Game On Dude is probably more accomplished in his total career to date than Best Pal was.  I can't believe I'm saying that, because I loved Best Pal to distraction.  But Best Pal was inducted into the HOF in 2010.  He was markedly better than Game On Dude as a 2 & 3yo, winning two GIs as a juvenile, the inaugural running of the Pacific Classic (ungraded at the time), and finishing 2nd in the Kentucky Derby at 3.  But at 4&up, Game On Dude caught up to Best Pal's record and surpassed it, imo.  Earnings are a dubious way to compare horses for obvious reasons, but Game On Dude HAS already out-earned Best Pal's career money total by $1M.

Lava Man is the other California-based gelding that begs comparison with Game On Dude.  The two of them are the only horses to sweep the 3 SoCal GI main-track races in the same season.  Lava Man has 3 Hollywood Gold Cups and 2 Big Caps.  Game On Dude has 3 Big Caps and 2 Hollywood Gold Cups, and they each have a Pacific Classic in their holsters.  Game On Dude has been considerably more successful outside of California than Lava Man ever thought of being....he couldn't pick up a hoof west of the California border.  He does have, however, one thing that's unique to him and him only....he remains the ONLY horse to win GIs on all three surfaces...dirt, synthetic, and turf.  Since both Del Mar and Keeneland are returning to dirt on their main tracks, it kind of looks like Lava Man will have that distinction maybe forever.  However, because of his inability to perform to any degree outside of California, I can't envision Lava Man ever getting into the HOF.  By the way, Game On Dude has already out-earned Lava Man by $1.4M.

Game On Dude is a moving target, thankfully.  Barring injury or illness, his story isn't over yet.  His tenacity and fight have maybe waned a little since he was 4 or 5, but he appears to be sound and healthy, and seems to love his job.  If he can continue to compete at a high level through the rest of his career, there's no reason that he can't be eventually enshrined in the HALL.

He would likely have to wait a while, though.  Best Pal died in 1998, but wasn't eligible to the HOF until 2002.  It took 8 years and a number of nominations before he was finally inducted in 2010.

A compiled record.....what a novel concept.  I really did think that a compiled record was what the Hall Of Fame was all about.

27 Jun 2014 10:38 PM
10 Cents Handicapper

If you want to know why first dude lost his last race it is simply because he ran in a super fast track.This affects his hoofs for the next race when the track doesn't have enough dirt on the track.  That is the main reason why he ran such a great race and that is why he got so close to the track record. if you don't believe me look at the racing form of all his previous races and you will notice this.

28 Jun 2014 4:43 AM
Old Timer

Good article as always Steve. One telling sentence is where you mentioned that Will Take Charge beat the Dude by a head at Churchill in the Clark but just a few weeks before that Dude lost to him by 10+ lengths in the BCC. He certainly seems to be at his worst for the  big ones.

I say bring back Chantal!

28 Jun 2014 7:36 AM
Old Timer

If I could add one more comment, I know that the Dude is a gelding and he has been running and winning races when many other horses have been put out to pasture. However please do not ever compare him to Kelso; Forego; and/or John Henry. I know that I'm an old geezer, but it just makes me cringe. I saw Kelso in his prime and he won races on grass and dirt and carried huge weight imposts in handicap races and he won at distances from 7 furlongs to 2 miles (even breaking a world record for the 2 mile distance). Not to mention winning the horse of the year 5 years in a row. That is a record that is like DiMaggio's 56 game hit streak... I do not ever expect that any horse will ever equal it, much less break it. Then again I do not mean to preach, as Steve you wrote the book on Kelso (literally) and it sits in a place of honor in my bookcase.  Just saying.

28 Jun 2014 2:20 PM

Dude should have been champion older male last year.  He should make the Hallof Fame based on the breadth of his accomplishments. In the long history of the Big Cap and H Gold Cup, only Lava Man dominated his era like Dude has. He's been remarkably durable and has made a lot of money.  He's just not a great horse, an all-timer like Cigar or Skip Away.

East Coast people might not like this, but I see a lot of similarities between Dude and Slew o' Gold in terms of their accolishments.  Dude has won 8 grade 1 races, Slew 7.  Dude has won 3 Big Caps, 2 H Gold Cups, and a Pacific Classic, dominating the Cali Handicap series. Slew dominated  Belmont's Fall Championship series for two years in 83 and 84, winning 2 Jockey Club Gold Cups, 2 Woodwards, and a Marlboro Cup.  Yet, he lost the 3 biggest races of his career, the Derby, Belmont, and 84 BC Classic, and was 6-times a beaten favorite.

29 Jun 2014 4:00 AM

Paula Higgins, I never said that a poster here said Dude and Dr. Fager are on the same level of greatness. I said I was amused that someone compared their running styles and basically assessed them both to be vulnerable to decent pace pressure when obviously, Dr. Fager was vulnerable ONLY when other extremely high-class horses (champions in every case) were also in the race ready to pounce. Dude, OTOH, has finished well behind mediocre horses a number of times. Every single other person who posts here understands the difference. I remain amused, despite your command that I not be.

Dude's flop yesterday against clearly inferior horses illustrates my point. He tends to quit when he doesn't get his own way.

29 Jun 2014 11:39 AM
Ta Wee

To lisa 123,

Your comment on Dr. Fager and the Dude were right on.  I was thinking the exact thing when I saw your eloquently put words to perfectly sum up the difference. Being chased with the aid of rabbits by the likes of Damascus and Buckpasser is just a bit different than what's out there now. I like Game On Dude and respect what he's done.  His style of running is to be commended also.  I'm happy to see him still performing at a high level. Dr. Fager however was a level of horse I only dream of seeing again.

29 Jun 2014 1:00 PM
food fight

This comment is for Pedigree Ann i am shocked that you would even mention Game On Dude and Dr Fager in the same sentence. There is no comparison what so ever Dr Fager won 4 titles in one year and set or broke track and world records through out his distinguished career while carrying as much as 140lbs on his back and running into the fastest horses of his generation.  

29 Jun 2014 1:47 PM
Paula Higgins

Lisa123, your comment was condescending. So you will remain amused and I will remain unimpressed. Every person on here gets that too. People can make their points, whether we agree with them or not, without being condescending.

29 Jun 2014 6:45 PM

In response to a previous comment that the Dude "quit" yesterday in the Gold Cup because he "didn't get his way". I saw a 7 year old horse who lost too much energy attempting to get the lead at the start of the race. He just didn't have enough gas left in his tank to hold off the closers. Funny how we see the same thing, and each viewer puts a different spin on it. Game on Dude was outrun. The spirit was there, but the legs weren't. Quit, as meaning "gave up", no. Some people just can't help but throw a jab at this wonderful gelding.

A word on the comment concerning Seabiscuit and the Admiral, I've entertained the idea that War Admiral could've been less than 100% the day of that match race, but after seeing old photos of the Biscuit afterwards, I now feel he simply outrun his highly esteemed opponent. The photos depicted a horse who emptied the contents of his soul on the track. Seabiscuit ran the greatest race of his life, his big heart and indomitable spirit won that day. I don't believe War Admiral was any less his great self against Seabiscuit.

This post is about the Dude, so I'll say this. Baffert once said "just when everyone is thinking this horse doesn't have it anymore, he pulls off a big one". Seems after his losses this year, this is a good time to shoot for the BC again. No one expects him to win, so he just might. It's perfect.

One more thing, the commentator during the Gold Cup stated that GOD was no longer the big cheese on the west coast {my words} and that the east coast horses like Will Take Charge and Mucho Macho Man will dominate the BC this year. Did he FORGET California Chrome or was it an intentional slight directed at his owners? Just struck me as strange, since it's pretty hard to overlook CC as a big threat from none other than, the west coast. Who can ignore the winner of the  the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness? CC should be the focus, not an afterthought when thinking of the Breeder's Cup.

29 Jun 2014 10:47 PM
Linda in Texas

ksweatman9 - never do i ever disagree with your postings. Memories seem to be short once past the middle of the country re: CC. Dude didn't quit, he knew he couldn't so he didn't, smart fella Game On Dude, so he will save up a little for the next one. Not giving up, no not never until he makes that decision.  

Thanks Steve. And 18 days til Saratoga! I wonder which horses will be at The Spa and on the tracks to be cheered on by the good folks who are lucky enough to be there?

30 Jun 2014 2:22 PM
Soldier Course


I too noticed the omission of California Chrome by the announcer in his remarks about the BC. I wonder how many people are skeptical about the connections' intentions regarding CC and the BC at this point. I hate to say this, but I'm waiting until they load the gate at Santa Anita before I get excited about his running.

30 Jun 2014 4:14 PM

ksweatman9 - regarding your response to my post about the infamous Seabiscuit/War Admiral match race.  I wasn't there and obviously you were not post was repeating what I read that was stated not only by someone who WAS there - but by the person who not only arranged the race - but was later regretful that he had done it because he did not believe it was a truly run race. Pictures may tell you whatever you want to believe, but I choose to believe the words of the esteemed horseman who stated them....  But the point of my post anyways was how nearly impossible it is to determine who is a better horse - even in a match race.....

30 Jun 2014 8:38 PM
Paula Higgins

Don't some of you think it's time to give the "Don't mention Game On Dude and Dr. Fager in the same sentence/paragraph/breath/day/month/year...." mantra a rest. As one who places Dr. Fager right after Secretariat/Man O'War and not much after, I think I can say that this is a little ridiculous. Let's celebrate the positive and hope for better races than Game On Dude's most recent one. He lives to race another day and maybe this will be his year to win the BCC.

ksweatman9, I totally agree with you about Seabiscuit and War Admiral. Seabiscuit won that race, War Admiral didn't give it away. In the end, both horses legitimately made the history books but for different accomplishments.

30 Jun 2014 9:55 PM

Ya hit a soft spot with Swaps, there was not a lot of

interest in the triple crown, more money to come home

in the Californian. It was more for eastern based colts.

Same as Spend a Buck, with Garden State bonus. Both

would of cake walked at Old Hilltop & Sidewalks NY.....

30 Jun 2014 11:56 PM

“Dude should have been champion older male last year.”

I suspect the above conclusion is based on GOD’s 2013 body of work. Two victories each in G1 & G2 races and 1 in a G3 is pretty impressive if not viewed in context. Four of victories were achieved against Clubhouse Ride and Kettle Corn.

Why contest the big east coast races if he was assured victory over the same cast of characters. How many older horses finished ahead of him in the 2013 BCC? Would the likes of Clubhouse Ride and Kettle Corn be competitive against them?

When GOD faced real competition in the biggest race of 2013 he was comprehensively beaten. It could be viewed that the gelding had an off day in the 2013 BCC. However, that would be a stretch as he was comprehensively beaten in the 2012 BCC when facing better as well.

GOD is a tough consistent gelding with an excellent resume. However, his failure in the big races suggests he requires lesser competition and ideal conditions to capitalize on his need to lead style of running.

He certainly had the best record in the older horses division on dirt but despite this he was not the best in the category on dirt.

01 Jul 2014 11:33 AM

Forgive me for going off topic with a final comment on the great match race race of 1938. However, as far as insiders feeling that the Admiral wasn't 100% against the Biscuit. I'm sure that most were shocked at the outcome of that race and were scrambling for an explanation. After all, frumpy Seabiscuit COULDN'T be a better horse than War Admiral, and in the true sense of the word "better", he was not. That being said, no one will convince me that a horse who won the Belmont in record time in the wake of an injury that left an infamous trail of blood, was too incapacitated to beat the Biscuit in a two horse race. The Admiral wasn't a pansy or a quitter, he was tough, he persevered through pain. For some unknown reason, Seabiscuit refused to lose. Perhaps he knew that his legacy lay before him on that Pimlico track. Everything he was would be defined on that day. Perhaps he wanted to redeem himself of all his short comings, or give back to the owner and trainer who loved him so much. It is my belief that on November 1, 1938 Seabiscuit was unbeatable. The Admiral didn't stand a chance.

01 Jul 2014 9:20 PM

Mr. Haskin, I could not agree with you more. Thank you for this most informative and insightful article.

02 Jul 2014 3:47 PM

I want to thank you for this article, for pointing out Game on Dude's accomplishments.  I call myself a racing fan, but somehow it hadn't clicked in, all that he has done, as a whole achievement.  He embodies all the qualities I look for in a racehorse, yet I haven't given him the credit he deserves.  And as one comment stated, we fans do bemoan when horses are retired so young, and here is this guy, still trying his best. You are right, Steve, and I for one feel pretty ashamed.  But now I feel grateful, that I can appreciate Game on Dude before he's retired.  God bless you.

02 Jul 2014 8:50 PM
Matthew W

Steve, I agree with you about the above mentioned horses, they were all great, especially Lava Man, who won over every surface--even if he couldn't travel, he was great--I mean, even Kelso couldn't win out West--but I wish Zenyatta would've gone to Saratoga, 'wish she would've tried Belmont--it seems to me, when you're talking about the greatest of greats--and she was that--Saratoga becomes more important even than the Breeders Cup--there, I said it! Especially after her loss--why not another season, age seven, go out to The Big Apple--no more pressure, she lost, now show her off--and finish out in the Drosselmeyer Classic, where her last race would've been a win--I guess I can stand them running Chrome in the Pomona Derby at Los Al--I want to see him in the Classic--but next season try Saratoga with that horse of a lifetime, take his bare-bones breeding to the blue-blood of racetracks, Saratoga--and win or lose, I hope the owner would take it like his wonderful horse--with a smile on his face, and nothing to be ashamed of....

05 Jul 2014 12:58 AM
Matthew W

Horses who run like The Dude usually cannot do it at age seven--that is, run fast and run long--his career stacks up to many very nice animals, and his last season was superb, despite his Classic flop--he won big and often--as for the post about how Forego didn't beat much, that was why he was giving so much weight--that is wrong on it's face--he gave huge weight NOT because of his competition, but because of HIMSELF--he gave Honest Pleasure, the 2-5 Derby Fave 20 lbs of lead--and when he toted 137 and Shoe he was toting FORTY lbs of lead--I'm from California, but "ole number 10" was and is one of my all-time faves---sprint, mile, 1 1/8, 1 1/4---up to 2 miles, Forego gave huge weight to everyone and when he was right they didn't have much of a chance--if that's not great then they need to retire that word!

05 Jul 2014 1:16 AM
Old Old Cat

What defines greatness?  I think that one measure of a racehorse deserving the title of "GREAT" is when the individual horse TRANSCENDS THE SPORT OF HORSERACING.  I know people who came to the track to see a GREAT horse, not caring if the horse won or lost... Secretariat, Zenyatta...

My younger brother was only interested in hotrod racing although he owned quarter horses and mules.  However, he felt it was very important for him to see an old man on the race track before that guy was done racing.  So he took off on a trip one day, and drove through three states, to watch his hero.. John Henry.

It was the only horse race he ever saw (in 70 years).

06 Jul 2014 3:46 PM

I think they need to let the Lady ride him again...Thanks for the article...

08 Jul 2014 9:31 PM

Steve great story. I love Game On Dude, he is a champion.

10 Jul 2014 7:03 AM

The lack of respect given to Game On Dude likely stems from several reasons.

1) He is primarily a west coast horse. Not sure how disrespect for a horse emerges from geography but it does.

2) Bob Baffert as his trainer doesn't win him lots of support.

3) When he is soundly defeated, not once but twice, at his home track when it matters most, that is reason to suspect his quality.

4) He has never run a WOW race, yes large margin victories but against softer competition, yes fast times but on an extremely fast tracks

5) Hard to love a cribber no matter how fast they are, it is an awful habit that never goes away and may be the reason he has no facebook page or twitter account

All in all he is a nice gelding that has been well managed which has resulted in an inflated bankroll.

Perhaps this year will be the year he puts it all together on the right day and will throw in a race that will be cause for everyone to say WOW, I hope he does but in 32 (make it 33) races thus far he has never done it.

6-28 Another defeat in a dismal effort, approximately 30 lengths  (5.49 seconds) slower than he ran in March. There were no Mucho Macho Man or Will Take Charge types in the race.  

I wonder if Fury Kapicory was in the race for the simple reason of keeping him fit, his two efforts at a mile and an eighth saw him losing ground to the leaders, why would trying a mile and a quarter be chosen-no where else to run? Puzzling!

13 Jul 2014 9:09 AM

Steve:  Don't know where to start.  You had me with the Ruffian article and flushed it away with this one.   Can't believe you tried making your point by trying to find fault with Wise Dan?  Your siting, "running in the same races each year against many of the same horses at mostly the same distance can be forgiven", let the reader to believe you’re simply a Wise Dan hater.  So by running in Grade 1's, in multiple states, cross country, in 2 countries, all while not ducking anyone and setting track, stakes records and margin of victory records at distances beyond a mile; it was necessary for you to "forgive" Wise Dan.  Are you off our meds?   In your strange analogy, should Tiger Woods have been "forgiven" for prepping at Torrey Pines then Bay Hill each year before winning the Masters and be proclaimed Player of the Year?  WD is a great horse.  It appeared Tom Hammond, Jerry Bailey and Randy Moss agreed as much on the KY Derby/Woodford telecast last May.  But perhaps you know more than them.  Dude is a nice horse but not only lost, but was up the track twice on his home track when it counted. Dan shipped in and got all the money and  hardware.  Swing and a miss Steve and not sure why you had to go there?   For those who put Dude in the “great horse” small room, you made a few friends.  But for the masses who unanimously voted for WD; twice, well, perhaps you (like Wise Dan) "can be forgiven" for this one.  

14 Jul 2014 8:21 AM

Not many people have "accepted" that horses racing only or mainly in California should not be downgraded for that, including Zenyatta.

Game on Dude was bought as a Derby contender but wasn't good enough. He is faint of heart and given to chucking it if things don't go his way. If he'd seen Drosselmayer he'd have spit the bit.

Many of us thought it was quite predictable that he would not shine in a field of world-class horses.

He's not a useless horse, but are we trying to create a bandwagon for "great" here? No way.

14 Jul 2014 10:25 AM

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