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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

Longevity Rules: Game On Dude & Ron the Greek

This one might not have the verve of the recent Point of Entry and Animal Kingdom showdown, but what the pending clash between Game On Dude and Ron the Greek does have, is that fading phenomenon known as longevity. Set to do battle in the prestigious Santa Anita Handicap are two of American racing’s grand warriors. While the sport of racing is besieged with stars being retired before we even get a chance to put their photos on our walls, Game On Dude and Ron the Greek are a different breed. Both old men are now six-years-young, and while many others that took down stakes back in 2010 are getting ready for breeding season number three, Game On Dude and Ron the Greek have never been better. And by that of course I mean, on the track.
 
A winner of 11 of 23 lifetime races, Game On Dude enters Saturday’s Grade 1 showdown in fine fettle. After a disappointing run as the favorite in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, a race in which his chances were greatly compromised by a poor break from the gate, California’s top older male has bounced back with two strong victories. In December, he refused to yield to a very game Nonios in the Native Diver. More recently, Game On Dude demonstrated complete authority while rolling to a romping victory in the Grade 2 San Antonio for trainer, Bob Baffert. The nine-time graded stakes winner has been assigned the highweight impost of 125 pounds and figures to go off the favorite once again. Arguably his most important victory to date was this very race back in 2011, when he dug in as game as could be  to win the Big ‘Cap by a nose. He also had to survive a claim of foul that day.

 
 
The Dude was unable to defend his title in the Big ‘Cap last year due to an unsuccessful and eventful sojourn to Dubai. The horse that was more than willing to etch his name is on the trophy last year, is … you guessed it, Ron the Greek.
 
Exploding down the Santa Anita stretch last year as if shot from a cannon, the Bill Mott trained Ron the Greek also found his most important victory to date in the Big ‘Cap. The Greek rolled home by 3 ½ lengths in last year’s edition; a win that helped secure his place among the most feared older horses in the land.

 
 
He added a win in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster over eventual Horse of the Year, Wise Dan, as well as, several other good efforts, before coming home 4th in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Like Game On Dude, he has an excuse in that BC, as the track bias did his late running style no favors. He has only run once this year, but it was an absolute pip. Taking to the sloppy track at Gulfstream Park like a Greek to saganawki, the son of Full Mandate turned his expected battle with Mucho Macho Man into a one-horse race. The powerful 11 length-plus victory in the Sunshine Millions Classic can be easily described as the most impressive performance so far of 2013. Also with 23 races in the career bank, Ron the Greek’s stretch running prowess makes him a strong second choice to Game On Dude.
 
The Big ‘Cap is a grand old race. First contested back in 1935, its’ roll call of winners can match that of just about any race run on United States soil. It has been won by such giants in the sport as Seabiscuit, Noor, Round Table, Ack Ack, Cougar II, Affirmed, Spectacular Bid, John Henry, Alysheba, Best Pal, Tiznow, and Lava Man. Many of these heavy hitters won the big race at the advanced age of 5, 6, or 7. A race like this deserves more than a flash in the pan winner. The Big ‘Cap deserves to be won by a classy and professional horse that has been there and done that. I believe that in one of the last two winners, Game On Dude or Ron the Greek, this year’s edition of the grand old race will have a winner in which the fans can be proud. 
 

 

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Older Comments about Longevity Rules: Game On Dude & Ron the Greek ...

I haven't seen a form for the race but of the horses familiar to me RTG is usually in top form this time of the year. Game On Dude, if there isn't a horse in there that can force him to the 3/4 in 1:11.0 he'll have it all his own way.
That inquiry in the Santa Anita Handicap of 2011 was so controversial at the time. maybe it shouldn't have been, once the order of events was clear. Game On Dude was doing fantastically coming into that race with his allowance won over When We Met, though, as I think he is for this year's running. I like Ron The Greek very well, but I really think I'll stick with The Dude. Mike Smith should have him budget out his speed, and win at Dude's favorite track. About the Sunshine Millions, it was a two horse race for the past two years. This year, with Mucho Macho Man out of it early, Ron The Greek was an easy winner. Game On Dude didn't face much in his prep in the San Antonio either. Looking forward to the meeting of two top males, and the very good gelding Called To Serve. Dude, Ron The Greek, Called To Serve.
I am extremely disappointed in the fields the last few years. This is the biggest race on the american west coast and nobody shows up for it. If it wasn't for Ron the Greek(who will dominate this years edition) Game on Dude would be winning this vs nobody of GR1 caliber.
Watching the replay of the stretch run...it really is a miracle that no one got hurt.
Hope the track plays fair.
I forgot about that bumping
Yup, Called to Serve is an improving threat, but I really see one of the top two taking down top money.
I'm so excited for this race! I look forward to seeing these two clash more than just this one time this year.
Speightstown, Tizway, Flat Out (last season). Love me some six. Are you still with Called to Serve? Psyched to see him swing deep., lose or win.
I'll take Ron the Greek!

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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.