Game On Dude is the marquee horse in Saturday’s Santa Anita Handicap,
but at least one person cautions not to overlook a less-accomplished
stablemate trained by Bob Baffert in Saturday’s Grade I, $750,000
classic for 4-year-olds and up at a mile and a quarter.
That would be Joe Talamo. Call it naiveté, youthful enthusiasm,
unflagging confidence or a combination of the three, but the 23-year-old
rider who pilots Guilt Trip in the Big ’Cap feels the horse he rallied
to win the Feb. 3 Strub Stakes on at 1 1/8 miles will appreciate the
additional furlong even more.
“I think a mile and a quarter is right up his alley,” said
Talamo, who has ridden the 4-year-old Pulpit colt twice, finishing third
by a half-length in the 1 1/16-mile San Fernando Stakes prior to the
“Everything set up good for him in the Strub. He’s such a nice
horse to ride, really. If they go fast, he can be back; if they go slow,
he can be forwardly placed. I know he’s got a tough task beating Game
On Dude, but I think he can do it.”
Gold and glory aside, victory in the Santa Anita Handicap would enhance Talamo’s resume.
“Oh, definitely,” he said. “The Big ’Cap. That’s one of the most
famous races in history, dating back to Seabiscuit and George Woolf. It
would definitely be a big feather in my cap to win it.” Guilt Trip
worked five furlongs Monday 1:00.40.
The field for the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap
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’, Alberto Delgado, 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.