TWO OTHER GRADE I STAKES; THE KILROE MILE AND THE LAS VIRGENES, FOR 3-YEAR-OLD FILLIES, OFFERED ALONG WITH FREE TOTE BAG
ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 27, 2013)—For the first time in its 76-year history, Saturday’s Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino will feature a showdown between two past winners--Bob Baffert’s Game On Dude, and Bill Mott’s Ron the Greek.
Game On Dude, winner of the 2011 Big ’Cap, comes off a sensational front-running win in the Grade II San Antonio Stakes on Feb. 3, and last year’s winner, Florida-bred and based Ron the Greek, demolished a field of Floridians in winning the Sunshine Millions Classic by 11 ¼ lengths from off the pace at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 19.
With contrasting styles, both 6-year-olds are in the hands of Hall of Fame trainers and each earned dazzling Beyer Speed figures in their last starts, with Game On Dude securing a 116, and Ron the Greek a figure of 115—all of which helps to set the stage for an epic showdown as 10 older horses get set to run a mile and a quarter in North America’s longest continually run “hundred grander.”
The complete field for the Big ’Cap, to be run as the 10th race on an 11-race program from the rail out, with comment, morning line and jockeys, is as follows:
Ron the Greek 5-2 Jose Lezcano
A winner of the Big ’Cap last year from way off pace, Florida-bred “Ron” demolished a group of Floridians in the Sunshine Millions Classic Jan. 19, earning a 115 Beyer. Fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, he’s on edge to defend his title for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott and owners Jack Hammer, Brous Stable and Wachtel Stable.
STRENGTHS: Trainer Mott has the 6-year-old gelding in top form and he looks more than ready to defend his crown in the Big ’Cap. Moreover, if Game On Dude is challenged early, Ron the Greek should be rolling from well off the pace under Lezcano, who won a “Dude-less” Big ’Cap a year ago. Although he carries six pounds more than he did last year, he gets three pounds from the favorite—which has Baffert Tweeting.
WEAKNESSES: Ask any rider who’s ridden more than one Big ’Cap and they’ll tell you it’s tougher to win from off the pace than up-close. If the favorite makes an uncontested lead, which is very possible, it may be impossible for Ron the Greek to overcome that kind of pace scenario. A deep closer, it would probably work to the “Greek’s” disadvantage if Lezcano were to try to alter his style.