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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• GAME ON DUDE’S DRILL MAKES BAFFERT HAPPY, BUT NOT WEIGHTS
• JON WHITE INSTALLS GAME ON DUDE MORNING LINE FAVORITE
• CHAMP BEHOLDER PREPS FOR GRADE I LAS VIRGENES STAKES
• SUGGESTIVE BOY SHARP FOR SATURDAY’S FRANK E. KILROE MILE
GAME ON DUDE TO CARRY HIGH WEIGHT OF 125 IN BIG ’CAP
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 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.
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 Hawke, a microbrew and craft beer presentation and a $400,000 guaranteed late Pick 4 presented by Daily Racing Form.
First post time on Big ’Cap is 12 noon. Gates open at 10 a.m.
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 network.
“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 ’Caps.
“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.”
BEHOLDER WORKS FOR LAS VIRGENES STAKES ON SATURDAY
Eclipse Award winner Beholder worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s fast main track Sunday in 59.60 under regular rider Garrett Gomez as the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner prepares for next Saturday’s Grade I Las Virgenes Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile.
“Beautiful” is how Richard Mandella termed the work. Beholder was upset by 20-1 shot Renee’s Titan in the 6 ½ furlong Santa Ynez Stakes on Jan. 21, losing by three-quarters of a length in her 3-year-old debut.
With Rafael Bejarano in the saddle, Fiftyshadesofhay also worked Sunday for the Las Virgenes, going five furlongs in company with Brannaman in 59.40 for Bob Baffert. Brannaman was clocked in a minute flat.
“She’s Kentucky Oaks material,” Baffert said of Fiftyshadesofhay, a daughter of Pulpit who won the Grade II Santa Ysabel on a wet/fast track by nearly six lengths under Bejarano, who has ridden her in each of her six starts.
Probable for the Las Virgenes: Beholder, Gomez; Fiftyshadesofhay, Bejarano; Renee’s Titan, Tyler Baze; and Speedinthruthecity, Joe Talamo.
McANALLY EYES BETTER DRAW FOR SUGGESTIVE BOY IN KILROE MILE
Ron McAnally, sitting on 699 career victories at Santa Anita, seeks his second win in the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile next Saturday when he sends out Arcadia Stakes winner Suggestive Boy. “He worked good yesterday,” said the 80-year-old Hall of Fame trainer, referring to Suggestive Boy’s five furlong turf move in 1:01.40. “He did it really nice and I don’t think we’ll get the 13 post position again.”
Suggestive Boy, a 5-year-old Easing Along horse bred in Argentina, won the Grade II Arcadia at one mile on turf breaking from the No. 12 post position in a field of 13.
Probable for the Kilroe: Akkadian, Garrett Gomez; Mr. Commons, Corey Nakatani; Silentio, Rafael Bejarano; Strong Suit, Gary Stevens; and Suggestive Boy, Joe Talamo.
Bob Baffert said he is “strongly considering” the race for Fed Biz after the San Fernando Stakes winner worked four furlongs on turf Saturday in 48.80. The son of Giant’s Causeway would be making his first grass start after nine career races.
FINISH LINES: John Sadler said the status for Demonic in the March 9 San Felipe Stakes is “questionable.” The Triple Crown hopeful is nursing an unrevealed malady which has curtailed his training schedule. Sadler added that La Caňada Stakes winner More Chocolate, who worked six furlongs Saturday in 1:14.60, is “in good shape” for the Grade I, $300,000 Santa Margarita Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on March 16 . . . Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner Calidoscopio worked four furlongs Sunday in 48.20. “He worked good,” trainer Mike Puype said after the 11-year-old horse worked under Aaron Gryder. “We need a couple works to get ready no matter what,” added Puype, who offered no firm plans for the Argentine-bred’s next race. Calidoscopio worked in company with Ice Cream Truck who was clocked in 48.60 . . . Richard Mandella was delighted after giving Frenchman Flavien Prat a leg up on his first winner at Santa Anita in Saturday’s ninth race aboard a Dynaformer colt making his first start, Quiet Force, who got up by a nose at a $57.80 return, cementing a Pick 6 carryover of $100,001 into Sunday’s card. “It’s one of the most fun things we’ve had happen” said the Hall of Fame trainer, who has been mentoring Prat during his tour at The Great Race Place. “He rode the horse really well. He’s ridden three for me, a win, a second and a third. I just wish I’d have had more to give him. I’m going to miss him. He goes back (to France) Thursday. Their big season starts soon. He’s a terrific kid with a terrific future.” . . . With a victory aboard American Excess at $5.40 in the fifth race at Los Alamitos last night, Efrain Hernandez registered his 40th career win, thus losing two pounds from his seven pound apprentice allowance. He now rides with a five-pound advantage . .The “Van Berg”--sandwich, that is--made its debut at Clockers’ Corner Sunday morning to rave reviews. The brainchild of Hall of Fame trainer Jack, The “Van Berg” consists of wheat bread, bologna, mayonnaise, peanut butter and tomato. This culinary delight is offered for $3 and quickly sold out this morning according hostess Rosie Ybarra. GO FIGURE!! . . . A total of 5,913 players registered for ShowVivor II that began yesterday. With several favorites failing to finish at least third yesterday, 1,998 participants remained alive entering Sunday’s action . . . Carl Baze, a trainer for 50 years mainly in Washington state and the Northwest and the grandfather of jockey Tyler Baze, died Friday night at the Arbor Rose Senior Care in Mesa, Arizona. Services will be 1 p.m. Tuesday at Arbor Rose.