For a trainer who seems to “live on the rail” in post position draws,
Bob Baffert was delighted to have his two runners, favored Game On Dude
and 6-1 morning line chance Guilt Trip, draw outside posts.
Game On Dude, the morning line choice at 6-5, has post position
nine in a field of 10, while Guilt Trip, winner of the Strub Stakes at 1
1/8 miles, drew No. 10.
“I really, really like that,” Baffert said of the two outside
stalls. “That was a good draw for me. Perfect. I didn’t want to be stuck
in the one hole.
“It’s good for Game On Dude, but you know what? There are some
good horses in there. Guilt Trip is going to have to step way up.”
Mike Smith had a more ambivalent attitude when it came to the No. 9 post for Game On Dude, on whom he is unbeaten in two rides.
“It all depends,” the Hall of Fame rider said. “Sometimes good
posts are bad and bad posts turn out to be good ones. But being outside
gives you an option . . . He’s a forwardly placed horse anyway. He’s
going to go quick out of there whether somebody’s going quick with him
“That’s kind of him. I’m just glad we’re in the race and he’s doing well.”
Among the “good” horses Baffert referred to is Ron the Greek,
winner of last year’s Big ’Cap who seeks to become only the fourth
back-to-back winner of the race in its storied 76-year history. He would
join Lava Man, Milwaukee Brew and John Henry.
Saturday’s race also marks the first time two former Santa Anita
Handicap winners will meet each other in the race, Game On Dude having
won it in 2011.
Julien Leparoux says the bobble at the break by Stephanoatsee in
the Strub Stakes in which he finished an onrushing second wasn’t that
big of a deal. “The stumble didn’t hurt him too much,” Leparoux said.
“The pace was pretty good that day. Stumbling didn’t help him,
obviously, but it didn’t bother him too much.
“He went four wide because he’s a big horse with a long stride,
and when he gets going, you don’t want to get him stopped, because it
would take a lot of time to get him going again.
“That’s why I decided to go around horses. I think the extra
eighth of a mile will be great for him. He’s not going to get tired,
that’s for sure.”
The field for the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap at 1 ¼ miles
presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino, the 10th of 11 races:
Ron the Greek, Jose Lezcano, 5-2; Handsome Mike, Mario Gutierrez, 20-1;
Deacon Speakin’, Martin Pedroza, 50-1; Called to Serve, Gary Stevens,
6-1; Clubhouse Ride, Rafael Bejarano, 30-1; Richard’s Kid, Tyler Baze,
12-1; John Scott, Martin Garcia, 20-1; Stephanoatsee, Julien Leparoux,
8-1; Game On Dude, Mike Smith, 6-5; and Guilt Trip, Joe Talamo, 6-1.