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Game On Dude to retire from racing

Game on DudeGame On Dude, the only horse ever to win three runnings of the Santa Anita Handicap, has been retired after compiling earnings of nearly $6.5 million, trainer Bob Baffert announced Sept. 18.

Because of his two inexplicably poor efforts in the Breeders' Cup Classic, Game On Dude, despite his numerous historic achievements, has been one of racing's most under-appreciated horses.

In addition to his unprecedented three Santa Anita Handicap victories, he became 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, and at the age of 7 won the Big 'Cap in a near-American record time of 1:58 flat, which was the fastest time in the race's 79-year history and only one-fifth off the track record set by the great Spectacular Bid in the 1980 Charles H. Strub Stakes.

In all, the gelded son of Awesome Again -- Worldly Pleasure, by Devil His Due, captured eight Grade 1 stakes and 14 graded stakes in all, and was second in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic, TVG Pacific Classic, Hollywood Gold Cup, and Clark Handicap.

Game On Dude has been a barn favorite for many years, and Baffert had mixed emotions at the thought of never seeing "The Dude" race again and not occupying his familiar stall at Santa Anita Park, where he received numbers of visitors.

"He ran a great race in the Pacific Classic, but it's gotten to the point where there is always going to be some horse who is going to be sacrificed by running with him and forcing him into ridiculous fractions, as was the case at Del Mar," Baffert said. "It's starting to wear on him a little bit to the point where it's not fun for him anymore. We always felt if he couldn't compete at the grade I level and wasn't enjoying what he was doing, it would be time to retire him.

"He's become such a big pet around the barn. . . "

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