2013 CHARLES TOWN CLASSIC
April 20, 2013
$1,500,000 (G2) 4&up, 1 1/8 miles
GAME ON DUDE
Owner: Diamond Pride LLC, Lanni Family Trust, Mercedes Stable & B. Schiappa
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Jockey: Mike Smith
Order of Finish Chart Video Picture Gallery
For the second consecutive year, the Charles Town Classic was contested as a Grade 2, but this time carried a purse of $1,500,000 which made it the richest thoroughbred race in the United States outside of the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup. With the new $1,000,000 prize going to the winner, the 2013 Charles Town Classic attracted three of the top four finishers from the Santa Anita Handicap (G1), including Game on Dude, who won the Big 'Cap by a record margin just 7 weeks earlier.
The 2013 edition wasn't the first try at Charles Town for Game on Dude, as he'd previously ventured to West Virginia in 2011 - right after his first victory in the Santa Anita Handicap. In 2011, when ridden by David Flores, the Bob Baffert trainee checked in second in the Charles Town Classic, 2 lengths behind winner Duke of Mischief, but ahead of Acclamation and Tizway who would eventually be named two finalists for that year's Eclipse Award for older male.
While the top older dirt horse in training scared off all but 5 other rivals, the field was by no means short on quality. Joining the six-year-old gelding in the gate were, amongst others, multiple Grade I winner Ron the Greek, 4th behind Game on Dude in while trying to notch a repeat in the Santa Anita Handicap earlier in the year. Game on Dude would also have to face a familiar foe in Clubhouse Ride, who was second behind Game on Dude in the Santa Anita Handicap and San Antonio in 2013. If that wasn't enough, Todd Pletcher sent back 2012 winner Caixa Eletronica for another shot at West Virginia's richest race.
Ridden this time by Mike Smith, Game on Dude found himself behind pacesetter Percussion in the early going, but overtook that challenger going up the backstretch, before having to fend off late runs from both Clubhouse Ride and Ron the Greek and holding on for a dramatic half-length victory. Owned in partnership by former Yankees and Dodgers manager Torre, Game on Dude boosted his career bankroll to nearly $5 million and remained on track to pick up the Eclipse Award that has eluded him the past two years.
The 2013 Charles Town Classic shattered all existing pari-mutuel records for a single card and race at the track, with the program handling nearly $4.4 million and the Charles Town Classic itself generating a shade under $1.3 million in wagering.