Game On Dude, Pacific Classic, Del Mar, 25th August 2013; Santa Anita Handicap, 8th March 2014;
Trained by Bob Baffert, Sire: Awesome Again. Dam: Worldly Pleasure
Bernie Schiappa is a 68-year-old native of Plainview, New Jersey, who got involved in harness racing before switching to Thoroughbreds. He retired as general manager of Fletcher Jones Imports, a Mercedes-Benz dealership in Las Vegas, in 2010, which gave him more time to concentrate on Thoroughbreds. He owns 25 and manages another 150 for Mercedes Stable. Schiappa’s horses race in the orange and blue silks of his favorite basketball team, the New York Knicks.
Schiappa was a partner with the late Terry Lanni, a lifelong friend who was Chairman of the Board and CEO of MGM Mirage, in 1999 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Silic, who was also owned by Ken Poslosky, and with Game On Dude.
Game On Dude’s victory in the 2011 Santa Anita Handicap is cherished by Schiappa. The gelding won by a nose under Chantal Sutherland, then had to sweat out an inquiry that seemed to last forever. “That was a 15-minute inquiry,” Schiappa said. “I was fairly comfortable that the results would stay the same.” And when it did? “It was a relief,” Schiappa said. “It was special for Terry, because he was getting sick then.” Lanni passed away a little more than four months later.
When Game On Dude won this year’s Pacific Classic, Schiappa and baseball legend Joe Torre walked Game On Dude into the Del Mar winner’s circle. Torre got involved in Thoroughbred racing when he was managing the New York Yankees, and one of his coaches, Don Zimmer, took him to the track. Torre subsequently owned several horses with late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel.