By Elaine Belval
Game on Dude won a controversial running of the 2011 Santa Anita Handicap (G1) this past weekend, agreed. Now, you can say what you want about the race itself (and Ray Paulick has an excellent editorial on the subject on his blog, the Paulick Report), but it would be tough to argue that Game on Dude’s sire, Awesome Again, is not one of the best sires standing in the US.
Awesome Again is a product of the powerful Stronach Stable, a perennial Eclipse Award winner as breeder. He was bred in Ontario and earned victories in the Canadian classic, the Queen’s Plate, before winning one of the best Breeders’ Cup Classics, in 1998. With nine victories in 12 starts (including seven stakes), Awesome Again retired to stud with a $50,000 stud fee and high expectations.
Awesome Again had his first runners in 2002, and he quickly got off the mark with the super impressive 2-year-old Toccet (winner of the G1 Champagne S. and Hollywood Futurity). Awesome of Course (better known as the sire of 2010 Champion 2-year-0ld filly Awesome Feather) also earned black type as a 2-year-old, with a victory in the Inaugural S. at Tampa Bay.
That first crop had eight stakes winners in it. Of course, his best known turned out to be Horse of the Year Ghostzapper, whose G1 victories included the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Met Mile.
Awesome Again hasn’t slowed down since. Perhaps his best year was 2004, when Ghostzapper won the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Wilko shocked everyone by winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. And, if that wasn’t enough, Awesome Again has had two winners of the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (Ginger Punch and Round Pond), and with four winners of Breeders’ Cup races, he leads all other active stallions in this category.
What Awesome Again does better than most in the US is sire quality. He has 24 GSWs among his 42 lifetime SWs (including 11 G1 winners). Fully 7.5% of his lifetime winners are GSWs. And his average earnings per starter is a whopping $100,000 (only two currently active stallions top that!).
Awesome Again sires a modest 10% two-year-old winners. His best runners improve with age and continue to win stakes races at five, six and seven, which is not common for most sires. They also stay 10 furlongs when given the opportunity, as Game on Dude did in the Big ‘Cap and Ghostzapper and others have shown.
Game on Dude is owned by the Lanni Family Trust, Mercedes Stable, & B C Schiappa; he was bred by Adena Springs, and he is trained by Bob Baffert, a fan of the sire. Indeed, the future looks bright for this 4-year-old, whose next start may be in the 10-furlong Dubai World Cup.
Awesome Again stands at Adena Springs Farm in Kentucky and his 2011 fee is $50,000.
(Elaine Belval is senior pedigree analyst at WTC.)