The 2013 Santa Anita Handicap was a competition for second from the beginning. The field was quality, but that didn’t stop Game On Dude from making it his race.
With a clean break, Game On Dude broke from post 9 (out of 10.) Aboard, Mike Smith gave him some rein and let him go; however, he was never absolutely out of control. Making a daring move, Smith let Game On Dude go to the lead and then rocketed in towards the rail. This may have been a rookie move, but it was the absolute opposite. On the rail was Handsome Mike, Game On Dude’s only competitor for the lead. Smith’s move was not only made for a lesser ground run for his horse, but it was also to intimidate Handsome Mike: it worked. Handsome Mike immediately backed off and went to lead the main pack by a half of a length while staying at least 2 lengths behind Game On Dude. Going the first quarter in 23: 64, the eventual winner got his rail spot and took off.
The 6/5 favorite then embarked on a leisure run on the Santa Anita surface. Never being less than 1 and a half lengths away from the field, Game On Dude toyed with the multiple graded stakes winning horses in the field. He effortlessly lead the field into the final turn, where he “took a deep breath,” Smith was quoted as saying. With a horse deep full of run, the Hall of Fame jockey let him roll. Game On Dude took off, clearing away from his nearest rival, Clubhouse Ride. Clubhouse Ride was 2 lengths clear of the field until Called To Serve, ridden by Gary Stevens, took off on the rail to finish 3rd. Meanwhile, Game On Dude had a body full of run and a motionless jockey on his back. The pair eventually went on to win by approximately 9 lengths with a final time of 2:00 flat, a great time.
Called To Serve rallied to be third behind Clubhouse Ride, while Ron The Greek, the 2011 Big ‘Cap winner, ran up to be fourth. Guilt Trip, Richards Kid, and Handsome Mike were the closest behind them. “This is a moment in history!” Track announcer Trevor Denman was caught saying as the big horse flew down the homestretch. Indeed, it was a moment in history: Game On Dude became only the fourth horse in history to win this famed race twice. This gave jockey Mike Smith his first win in the race.
“He’s back and better than ever.” Take it from his trainer, this may be only the start of the greatest things to come from this horse.
Written by Madison Jackson