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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

Is Game On Dude our next Great Gelding?

With yesterday’s big win for Game On Dude as further proof, in which he broke slow, rushed up into fast fractions, took command in 1:09 flat, before rolling home the easiest kind of winner in 1:46.88, it is clear that he is on the short list of the best horses in America, if not the very best. For all fans of Game On Dude and his popular rider, Chantal Sutherland, this is music to their ears, but for another reason, I find his excellence to be most intriguing. You see Game On Dude is a gelding. He will never be rushed off to the breeding shed, therefore if all goes well, yesterday’s romping winner of the San Antonio is a horse racefans can enjoy for years to come. And since most of us have been disappointed by having some of our favorites leave the sport way too soon because of the lure of breeding dollars, this is a nice thought to be sure. It’s also one that got me thinking of where Game On Dude rates against some of the best geldings of recent years. 
 
In fact, I started a new poll (right) asking voters, “Game On Dude is the best gelding since…”  If not all of the best recent American geldings, and their accomplishments, are fresh in your mind, I have compiled career highlights for this bunch that may have had shortcomings in the ways of love, but certainly not on the racetrack:
 
2007 – Game On Dude – (15-6-4-1 / $2,254,658) After showing flashes of strong ability at three, Game On Dude became one of the best horses in the country at four, narrowly missing out on the Eclipse Award as Champion Older Male. Wins in the Santa Anita Handicap and Goodwood, as well as, a runner-up performance in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, were highlights of last year. 
 
2006 – Mine That Bird – (18-5-2-1 / $2,011,581) Despite being a multiple stakes winner in Canada at two, Mine That Bird shocked the world with a runaway victory in the 2009 Kentucky Derby. Solid but losing performances in the Preakness and Belmont followed, but after that he was never able to duplicate his best form.
 
2003 – Well Armed – (24-7-3-1 / $5,179,803) Far from the most consistent horse on this list, Well Armed originally raced in England before becoming a top handicap horse on the West Coast. Plagued by injuries, he was able to run the race of his life in the richest, winning the 2009 Dubai World Cup by 14 lengths.
 
2001 – Commentator – (24-14-1-4 / $2,029,845) The first New York-bred on this list, Commentator had speed to be feared over a career that spanned six seasons. Injuries kept him from running more, but when healthy, he was one of America’s finest horses from six to nine furlongs for several years.
 
2001 – Lava Man – (47-17-8-5 / $5,268,706) Seeming to come from nowhere, this former claimer went on to reach great heights that saw him become one of California’s all-time favorite horses. Among his long list of accomplishments include three consecutive wins in the prestigious Hollywood Gold Cup.
 
2000 – Funny Cide – (38-11-6-8 / $3,529,412) Undefeated at two, this popular New York-bred was never better than when he won the Derby and Preakness, before finishing a solid 3rd in the Belmont. His career after the Triple Crown was a bit spotty, but he counts the 2004 Jockey Club Gold Cup among his many stakes wins.
 
1999 – Better Talk Now – (51-14-8-5 / $4,356,664) Purchased for the bargain basement price of $10,500 as a weanling, he kept improving, after his transition to turf, to become one of America’s best grass horses with graded stakes wins in five consecutive years, including the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Turf.
 
1999 – Perfect Drift – (50-11-14-7  / $4,714,213) He may not have been the most consistent winner on this list, but the 3rd place finisher in the 2002 Kentucky Derby was good long enough to be the only horse to run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in five straight years.
 
1994 – Kona Gold – (30-14-7-2 / $2,293,384) Speaking of longevity, how about the Champion Sprinter of 2000, Kona Gold, who was able not only to run in, but run competitively in five consecutive editions of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, including a victory in 2000.
 
1992– Da Hoss – (20-12-5-2 / $1,931,558) Super quick as a juvenile debuting in Arizona, Da Hoss was as consistent as they come … just check out the record. His claim to fame was winning consecutive editions of the Breeders’ Cup Mile, the second coming soon after nearly two years off.
 
1990 – Prairie Bayou – (12-7-3-0 / $1,450,621) This one may never have been able to prove his ultimate greatness because of tragedy in the Belmont, but his 5 stakes wins at three, including the Preakness was plenty for him to be named Champion three-year-old of 1993.
 
1988 – Best Pal – (47-18-11-4 / $5,668,245) This Hall of Famer was a special kind of gelding in that he was topnotch as a juvenile, dominating the California two-year-old scene. 2nd in the next spring’s Kentucky Derby, the California-bred great would go on to major wins in 6 straight years.
 
1982– Creme Fraiche – (64-17-12-13 / $4,024,727) He may never have been considered the best horse of his era, but he was tough as they come at 12 furlongs, highlighted by winning the Belmont and two editions of the Jockey Club Gold Cup.
 
1975 – John Henry – (83-39-15-9 / $6,591,860) The gold standard for geldings of the last 30 years, John Henry was a two-time Horse of the Year, and four-time Turf Champion in the early eighties. Demonstrating his remarkable durability, he won each of those awards at the age of 9.
 
There you have it, America’s best geldings of recent years. Now before you tell me that I forgot Exterminator, Phar Lap, Kelso, Native Diver, Forego, etc … remember, what I am asking here is who is the last gelding better than Game On Dude. Clearly John Henry ends the discussion, as any rational person should not say Game On Dude is in the same rarified air as that great, but in looking at all the outstanding geldings since John Henry, at least a case can be made that Game On Dude is approaching them in stature. How far can he go? A second consecutive win in next month’s Santa Anita Handicap would be a great start.

 

 

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Older Comments about Is Game On Dude our next Great Gelding?...

Could be the best since Lava Man, but I am so biased toward Better Talk Now that I'm probably ineligible. I don't think I'll ever love a racehorse as much as I love that old gelding. Of course, that's because he was "THE horse" for me - the one who got me into racing when the most beautiful black horse I'd ever seen won the 2004 Breeders' Cup. This sport needs more great geldings that stick around and build fan bases. I don't think he was ever as popular as a horse like Lava Man, but to me Brass Hat was another one of those geldings that just stole my heart. The old, classy type that doesn't always win but always gives an honest account of himself. Evening Attire also comes to mind. Right now, I'll say Game on Dude is the best since Lava Man, but it'll take a lot to out-do that. Well Armed was a terrific horse on his day, also, but I'll put GOD above him based on consistency.
  • xmango93x · Oh, and how about Hymn Book to add to the list of prospective top-notch geldings? Would love to see that 6-year-old keep improving and stay at the top of the class for McGaughey. I've liked him for a while but he seems to be coming into his own at last. · 1047 days ago
Before I say what I'm about to say, I'd like it noted for the record that I'm a huge fan of Game on Dude, and admire this horse a ton!! That said, I'm not sure the word "Great" actually applies to Game on Dude? I think he probably has as much heart and pure desire to win as any gelding racing in America, or any horse period for that matter. But 6-wins, 4-places, and 1-show in 15 lifetime starts is a long way from being labeled "Great" in my view. TJMO.
Add me to those who would rather see him in stay in California rather than a trip to Dubai. As you've said the BC is at Santa Anita this year, plus I believe he is better on dirt than on synthetics. Mike, I would argue that if he is this year's HOTY, he would overtake the record/accomplishments of Lava Man.
  • stevebiscuit · If it were up to me I'd go for the Big Cap in a second. Aside from the Breeders Cup Classic, it's my favorite race for older males. Overtake Lava Man's accomplishments? All I know is that I'd take a Pacific Classic, two Big Caps, three Hollywood Gold Cups, two Sunshine Millions, and a Charlie Whittingham before anything The Dude can accomplish in just a year. · 1051 days ago
Cigar was not able to sire any offspring, but he's not a gelding.
dude why did you not include cigar as one of the great geldings
I believe he is an amazing horse and im glad that i will get to see him for another few years and i believe Chantal is perfect rider for him
Mike in SB, I hope they don't send him to Dubai, either. He's great over dirt, but he really has not run poorly over synthetics either. He lost the HGC by a nose and the Pacific Classic by about 4 lengths, so he definitely is not terrible on the surface. With that being said, I agree that his running style does not suit the World Cup. I'd like to see him stay in the States and dominate here.
I was just commenting on GOD earlier , I believe he could take up to 4 G1 races in 2012.. Only time will tell I understand but he is very dangerous from 1 mile to 1 and a quarter. IMO
He could be the best since Lava Man if his connections can resist the temptation to send him to Dubai. This is the year to keep him in California with the Breeders Cup at Santa Anita. He doesn't have the running style for the Gold Cup, he is better on dirt and that race takes a lot out out of a horse. A win in the Big Cap and the Breeders Cup Classic probably makes him Horse of the Year unless a three year old does something spectacular.
Hes no Kelso, but he is good.
Based on the percentage of how many times they hit the board during their career, it's hard to argue with Da Hoss (95%), Prairie Bayou (83.3%), and Commentator (79.2%). In terms of that percentage, they're the top three on this list, but numbers only tell half the story. What Well Armed accomplished in Dubai was nothing short of amazing, and Funny Cide and Lava Man were immensely popular. John Henry is the gold standard for great geldings, but based on what Well Armed overcame, I would have to say that Game On Dude is the best gelding since Well Armed.

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing since birth. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 
  
As Managing Editor of Horse Racing Nation, Brian authors a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and adds his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Brian also serves on the the Board of Directors of ReRun Thoroughbred Adoption and is a Vox Populi committee member. 
  
A graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives in Suburban Chicago with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra, where he is a professional golf instructor when he is not following the horses.