Game On Dude, Amazombie arrive at Old Friends

October 08, 2014 02:40am
Game On Dude Old Friends 615 X 400
Photo: Rick Capone

 

It was a big day on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014 for Old Friends, the Thoroughbred retirement farm in Georgetown, Ky.

In fact, it was almost like Christmas, as two new equine retirees, each with some very impressive credentials, were being retired to the farm and everyone was very excited to say the least.

It was the kind of day Michael Blowen, founder of Old Friends, really enjoys as well. It was also the reason why he was standing on a tarmac on a cold, rainy day at Blue Grass Airport around noon, waiting for the new arrivals to reach Kentucky.

His wait wasn't that long because at approximately 12:23 p.m., a Tex Sutton air jet landed at the airport carrying about 20 Thoroughbreds waiting to go to their final destinations in Central Kentucky. Some were heading to Keeneland, some to big breeding farms, and others possibly to Hagyard Equine Medical Institute or Rood-and-Riddle Equine Hospital for some medial care.

But two of them – Game On Dude and Amazombie – were destined for a peaceful and dignified retirement at Old Friends.

It was interesting to watch the attendants unload the horses. A line of Sallee Horse Vans and Brook Ledge Horse Transportation vans lined up on one side of the tarmac. Then, one by one, they pulled up next to the plane and put their ramp onto the plane's ramp.

Then someone would lead a horse down the ramp and onto the truck, and once the horse was aboard, they closed it all up, pulled away and headed to their destination. Meanwhile another truck would pull up next to the plane to begin the process all over again.

The process continued until the Sallee Van destined for Old Friends pulled up next to the plane. The waiting was over for Blowen, with a smile that seemed wider than the Grand Canyon, watched as Game On Dude came down the ramp, followed by Amazombie.

The two horses were placed in their stalls in the van, the doors were closed and off they drove, with Michael now inside the van with the driver heading to Old Friends.

About 30 minutes later, the van pulled up the driveway at Old Friends, which is now called Byars' Way, where about 30 people – reporters, horse fans, Old Friends' fans, and volunteers at the farm, waited to see them.

The two horses were unloaded from the ramp and, one by one, walked around the small round pen next to the barn so that everyone could see them and take some photos.

Soon, both horses were taken to their new stalls in the barn, where they will rest and acclimate for the next few days to a life of retirement at Old Friends under the care of farm manager Tim Wilson and assistant farm manager Carole Oates.

Amazombie photo by Rick Capone 


Then, about a week from now, they will be let out in their new paddocks, so they can enjoy grazing on sweet Kentucky bluegrass while greeting visitors that pass by on tours each day.

These two horses will be a great addition to Old Friends, as they are fresh off the track and will attract a new group of race fans who will want to see them. Especially, Game On Dude, as he has been a huge favorite of horse racing fans around the country the last few years.

Game on Dude has some impressive race credentials, which includes being the only horse to ever win the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) three times. He is also the only horse to win the three biggest Grade 1 stakes races in California in the same year – the Santa Anita Handicap, the Hollywood Gold Cup and the Pacific Classic.

Game On Dude, who is a 7-year-old gelding by Awesome Again-Worldly Pleasure, by Devil his Due, finished his career with 16 wins, seven seconds, one third and $6,498,893 in earnings in 34 career starts. That included eight Grade 1 stakes and 14 graded stakes in total.

Owned by the Lanni Family Trust, Mercedes Stables and Bernard Schiappa, and trained by Bob Baffert, Game On Dude was retired on September 18, 2014. Soon after, thanks to everyone involved, it was decided to send Game On Dude to Old Friends to enjoy his retirement.

Amazombie also has some impressive credentials. Most notably, the 8-year-old gelding won the 2011 Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) and was named the 2011 Eclipse Award winner as Champion Sprinter.

During his career, Amazombie was campaigned by the partnership of Tom Sanford and leading Southern California trainer William Spawr.

In total, Amazombie, who is by Northern Afleet-Wilshe Amaze, by In Excess (Ire.), won 12 races, finished second five times, third six times and earned $1,920,378 in 29 career starts. He won six graded stakes races, with three of them being Grade 1 races.

Together, Game On Dude and Amazombie will be wonderful additions to the horse roster at Old Friends, where they will soon be awaiting visits from their fans. Oh, and both of them have a small request – "Please bring carrots!"


 

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Meet Rick Capone
                                  
Rick Capone has been a horse racing fan since the Saturday afternoon when he saw Riva Ridge, his all-time favorite horse, win the Kentucky Derby on television.
 
Today, he is the sports editor for The Woodford Sun, a weekly newspaper in Versailles, Ky., a town just outside of Lexington and only 15 minutes away from Keeneland.
 
In addition to his duties at the Sun, Rick is a volunteer at Old Friends, the thoroughbred retirement farm in Georgetown that is owned by Michael Blowen. He even is part owner of one of the retirees there, Miss Hooligan, the grand daughter of 1988 Eclipse Award – Champion Turf Horse, Sunshine Forever, who is also on the farm.
 
Rick grew up in Havertown, Pa., just outside of West Philadelphia. At 20, he moved to South Florida with his family and lived a stones throw from Gulfstream. After some stops in North Carolina, Georgia and California, he currently lives in Georgetown, Ky., where he gets to drive by some of the greatest horse farms in the world on his way to work every morning.
 

(Photo: Miss Hooligan and Rick at Old Friends this past December. (Photo by Steve Blake)

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