A word of caution from Team O’Neill: Handsome Mike is not a one-hit
wonder. Those who thought the same of I’ll Have Another after his 43-1
upset in last year’s Robert B. Lewis Stakes paid the price if they
missed the boat when he went on to capture the Kentucky Derby and
Handsome Mike is considerably less accomplished than I’ll Have
Another, having won only a maiden race besides the Pennsylvania Derby.
Next up is the Santa Anita Handicap a week from Saturday, a mile and a
quarter classic that could set up well for the 4-year-old Scat Daddy
colt owned by J. Paul Reddam.
“Handsome Mike can rate,” said trainer Doug O’Neill’s brother,
Dennis. “When he won the Pennsylvania Derby, he was sitting right in
behind them on the outside and rallied. So he would love to get another
pace scenario like that.
“Game On Dude broke real good in the San Antonio (Stakes on Feb.
3). You really have to get to him, when he breaks like that. You don’t
hope he breaks bad, but if he does, and you’re in front of him, it
compromises his chances.”
Handsome Mike worked six furlongs on Santa Anita’s fast main
track Friday morning in 1:11.80 with regular rider Mario Gutierrez
aboard. “He worked really well,” Doug O’Neill said. “He cooled out good
so we’re going to take a shot in the Big ’Cap. We were happy with him.”
Another O’Neill Big ’Cap candidate, Richard’s Kid, who
disappointed in the grassy San Marcos Stakes on Feb. 9, worked six
furlongs under Tyler Baze in 1:13.80, while Sham Stakes winner
Goldencents, prepping for the San Felipe Stakes on March 9, went six
furlongs under Kevin Krigger in a bullet 1:10.40.
“They both worked fantastic,’ O’Neill said. “Richard’s Kid worked
by himself. We’ll see how Richard’s Kid cools out, but plans right now
are to run in the Big ’Cap.”
Probable for the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap at 1 ¼ miles
presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino: Game On Dude, Ron the
Greek, Called to Serve, Guilt Trip, Stephanoatsee, Handsome Mike, John
Scott, Clubhouse Ride, Tritap and Richard’s Kid.
Not only will Santa Anita present three Grade I races on Big
’Cap Day, fans on track will receive free an attractive Santa Anita tote
bag with paid admission while supplies last.
Festivities also will include popular premium Food Trucks, a KROQ
concert featuring Youngblood Hawk, a microbrew and craft beer
presentation and a $400,000 guaranteed late Pick 4 presented by Daily
First post time on Big ’Cap is 12 noon. Gates open at 10 a.m.