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Game On Dude's victory caps successful Charles Town Classic

April 21, 2013

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — Game on Dude proved his mettle and staked his claim to the top spot in the handicap division on Saturday with a hard-fought win over Clubhouse Ride and Ron the Greek in the $1.5 million Charles Town Classic, a Grade 2 race.

In addition to Game on Dude’s win, the evening’s 13-race card produced an all-sources handle figure of $4,398,984, smashing the previous handle record on a single Charles Town card by nearly $1 million.

Sent off at odds of 0.30-to-1, Game On Dude, a six-year-old gelding, repelled a challenge from Big ’Cap runner-up Clubhouse Ride and a late run from multiple Grade I winner Ron the Greek to notch a half-length win in the country’s richest race outside of the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup.

Game on Dude’s jockey, Hall of Famer Mike Smith, credited the horse — who has won nearly $5 million in his career — but didn’t think the Bob Baffert trainee handled the surface as well as others.

“He’s just a workhorse. He does everything. He runs over everything,” said Smith. “He had a bit of trouble handling the surface today; he was slipping on it, especially around the turns. He’s not used to those tighter turns.”

Co-owner Joe Torre, best known for his success as a major league baseball catcher and manager of the New York Yankees, made the trip to Charles Town for the race and was pleased about the outcome.

“My heart was pumping,” said Torre. “It’s a helpless feeling because you can’t do anything about it, just watch. Sort of the same thing when Mariano Rivera goes out to the mound. You put your hands in your pocket and hope for the best. Mike Smith has such a great relationship with Dude. He backed him out. He just wasn’t comfortable and got back in. He’s a terrific jock.”

With a handle record and a victory by arguably the country’s top handicap horse, the night proved an overwhelming success for the track as well.

“What a great horse race and a great night,” said Erich Zimny, the vice president of racing operations. “We’re thrilled to be able to bring horses of this quality to Charles Town and be able to best our previous handle record by nearly $1 million.”

— Information provided by Hollywood Casino at Charles Town.

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