It’s game on for Game On Dude in next Saturday’s Santa Anita Handicap
after the favorite for the track’s marquee race worked six furlongs on a
fast main track Sunday morning under Martin Garcia in company with
stablemate Patriot’s Voyage. Each was timed in 1:11, fastest of 11
drills at the distance, the average time of which was 1:12.95.
“I was really happy with the work,” said Bob Baffert, who will
accept highweight of 125 pounds assigned to Game On Dude for the Grade I
classic offering $750,000 in purse money.
“I wasn’t really happy with the weights,” Baffert went on. “I
thought I’d at least get the same weight as Bill Mott’s horse (defending
Big ’Cap winner Ron the Greek). That’s a good horse. Every time I run
against those good horses, they beat me. My horse is a tough little
horse, but Ron the Greek’s tough, too.”
Ron the Greek was given second highweight of 122 pounds.
“The main thing is, he worked really well,” Baffert said of Game
On Dude, not dwelling on the weights. Baffert had the earner of more
than $3.2 million galloping out seven furlongs in 1:24.
Probable for the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap at 1 ¼
miles presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino, with assigned
weights: Game On Dude, 125, Ron the Greek, 122, Called to Serve, 118,
Richard’s Kid, 118; Guilt Trip, 117; Handsome Mike, 117; John Scott,
116; Stephanoatsee, 116 and Clubhouse Ride, 115.
Game On Dude, winner of the 2011 Santa Anita Handicap, is owned
by a partnership of the Lanni Family Trust, Bernie Schiappa, Mercedes
Stable and baseball great Joe Torre. Game On Dude has won 11 of 23
starts and $3,252,158. He has never won carrying more than 124 pounds.
In other Big ’Cap news:
Ron the Greek, winner of last year’s Big ’Cap, was scheduled to
arrive at Ontario Airport early Sunday afternoon, then van to Santa
Anita to prepare for the race he won last year by 3 ½ lengths, coming
from 10th after a quarter mile in a field of 13.
Carla Gaines, who yesterday said John Scott would pass the Big
’Cap, Sunday morning said she was “not ruling it out” after the Crystal
Water Stakes winner worked six furlongs under Martin Garcia in 1:11.60.
GAME ON DUDE WILL BE BIG ’CAP MORNING LINE FAVORITE
Game On Dude will be the morning-line favorite for the Santa
Anita Handicap, according to Jon White, who is Santa Anita’s oddsmaker
and provides commentary from the paddock for the track’s simulcast
“Before we know who is actually entered, any morning-line prices
for the Big ’Cap are subject to change,” White said. “But based on the
horses currently listed as probable, I plan to make Game On Dude a 6-5
favorite, with Ron the Greek the second choice at 5-2.
“I made Game On Dude a 9-5 morning-line favorite for the
Breeders’ Cup Classic, with Ron the Greek at 6-1. Game On Dude was sent
away as a 6-5 favorite in that race, while Ron the Greek’s closing price
was 8-1. Ron the Greek finished fourth, while Game On Dude ended up
seventh. Since the Classic, Game On Dude is two for two and Ron the
Greek romped (to an 11 1/4-length victory) on a sloppy track in Sunshine
Millions Classic at Gulfstream.
“In next Saturday’s Big ’Cap, I expect Game On Dude and Ron the
Greek to be much, much closer in the betting than the 6-5 and 8-1 they
were in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Game On Dude and Ron the Greek really
are the ‘big two’ in this year’s Big ’Cap. I think they definitely
deserve to be the morning-line favorite and second choice for this
year’s Santa Anita Handicap considering they have won the last two Big
“Beyond Game On Dude and Ron the Greek, depending on exactly how
many others are entered, I plan to put Called to Serve, Guilt Trip and
Stephanoatsee from 5-1 to 8-1. Called to Serve won the Discovery at
Aqueduct by almost five lengths and the Broad Brush at Laurel by almost
six. He’s very dangerous, especially with his rider being Gary Stevens,
who has won the Big ’Cap four times. Guilt Trip looked good winning the
Strub. And Stephanoatsee, who ran second in the Strub, acts as if he
will like the longer distance of the Big ’Cap.”