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 Strub victory.

“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.

Santa Anita presents three Grade I races Saturday. In addition to the Santa Anita Handicap, the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile and the Grade I Las Virgenes Stakes will be decided. Also, fans on track will receive free an attractive Santa Anita tote bag with paid admission while supplies last.

Festivities 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 is 12 noon. Gates open at 10 a.m.


Not only would it make history if Nick Canani joined father Julio as the lone son-father training duo to win the Big ’Cap should Called to Serve capture Saturday’s race for Nick and owner Marc Ferrell, there could be another piece of history.

It likely would be a first if father Julio and son Nick won two Grade I races at the same track on the same day, should Julio take the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile with Akkadian and son Nick the Big ’Cap with Called to Serve.

“My horse is fine,” Julio said of Akkadian, who drew post position five of eight in the Grade I Kilroe on turf. “He’s sound, he’s training good, he’s doing great,” continued Julio, who won the Santa Anita Handicap in 1989 with 50-1 shot Martial Law.

“It would be great for us to win two Grade I races here on the same day,” Nick added.

Akkadian, a 5-year-old Tiznow gelding who was fourth, beaten only three lengths in the Grade II Arcadia Stakes on Feb. 2, would give Julio his first victory in the prestigious race.

The field for the Kilroe: Silentio, Rafael Bejarano, 9-2; Fed Biz, Mike Smith, 9-2; Suggestive Boy, Joe Talamo, 5-2; Vagabond Shoes, Martin Garcia, 12-1; Akkadian, Garrett Gomez, 8-1; supplemental nominee Forest Mouse, Ry Eikleberry, 15-1; Wilkinson, Martin Pedroza, 9-2; and Mr. Commons, Corey Nakatani, 3-1.


Beholder will be favored to make amends when she takes on upsetter Renee’s Titan and six other 3-year-old fillies in Saturday’s Grade I Las Virgenes Stakes at one mile.

“She’s doing good,” Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella said of the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies champion, who was beaten by 20-1 outsider Renee’s Titan in the Santa Ynez Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs on Jan. 21.

“I expect her to run her best race,” added Mandella, who nursed the daughter of Henny Hughes back from a minor throat ulcer after the Santa Ynez setback. “The throat issue is resolved.”

The field for the Las Virgenes, which goes as race six: Ridingwiththedeveil, Gary Stevens, 30-1; Fiftyshadesofhay, Rafael Bejarano, 5-2; Lady Asano, Jose Lezcano, 15-1; Speedinthruthecity, Joe Talamo, 12-1; Beholder, Garrett Gomez, 6-5; Scarlet Strike, Mike Smith, 6-1; Renee’s Titan, Tyler Baze, 6-1; and Heir Kitty, Julien Leparoux, 6-1.


If there’s one thing racing needs more than new bettors, it’s new owners.

The game took a mini-step towards fulfilling that need recently when two young baseball players bought into a piece of the action in horses trained and owned in part by Vann Belvoir.

They would be Kyle Schneider, a first-time owner who has 10 percent of a 6-year-old horse named Miles Heir, and Sean O’Leary, who owns 10 percent of a 5-year-old mare named Single N Lovin It. Both run in bottom-level claiming races.

Schneider is a 21-year-old right-handed pitcher for Glendale Community College. O’Leary, 28, describes himself as a right-handed knuckleballer who’s also the pitching coach at Monrovia High School.

“They’re both local guys who came to gamble at the track and eventually became owners,” Belvoir said. “This is the kind of curiosity that hopefully begins to re-generate interest in the sport.”

Miles Heir, a winner at 10-1 on Feb. 10, finished fifth in Sunday’s second race, a one-mile event with a $17,000 purse.

FINISH LINES: John Sadler said Triple Crown hopeful Demonic was “back on the track today” after an undisclosed ailment, “but won’t be running the San Felipe (Stakes on March 9). He’s back in training and will probably gallop tomorrow but I’ll have to chart a new course.” . . . Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer won two races Sunday including the Sensational Star Stakes to move into third in the trainer standings behind Bob Baffert (22) and John Sadler (21). Hollendorfer has won with four of five starters for Tom and Debi Stull’s Tommy Town Thoroughbreds LLC, including the Sensational Star with Ain’t No Other, ridden by Rafael Bejarano. Bejarano has won with 10 of his 17 mounts for Hollendorfer and holds a 51-31 bulge over runner-up Edwin Maldonado in Santa Anita’s standings with 32 racing days remaining . . . Unbeaten San Felipe contender Flashback worked six furlongs in company with stablemate Den’s Legacy Monday in a bullet 1:11 under regular rider Julien Leparoux. Den’s Legacy was clocked in 1:11.40. Also on Monday, 2012 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic runner-up My Miss Aurelia worked six furlongs for Steve Asmussen in 1:12.40 . . . Executiveprivilege, who was upset by Beholder in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last year, worked four furlongs Tuesday for Bob Baffert in 48.20 . . . On Wednesday, Santa Maria winner Great Hot went five furlongs in 1:02.20 as she prepares for the Grade I Santa Margarita Stakes on March 16 for trainer A.C. Avila . . . David Flores, formerly represented by agent Brandon O’Bryan, is now with Brad Pegram, who also has Mike Smith, while Victor Espinoza, formerly with Pegram, has a new agent in Brian Beach, who retains the services of Corey Nakatani . . . Joe Tess, a first-time starter in Saturday’s 11th race, is named for popular ESPN announcer Joe Tessitore, who hosted ESPN’s Breeders’ Cup coverage for several years. A 3-year-old son of Macho Uno trained by Steve Asmussen for owners George Bolton and the Stonestreet Stables, Joe Tess has four bullet works for his debut in the 6 ½-furlong maiden allowance race with a purse of $56,000 . . . Host Tom Quigley’s guest handicapper Saturday at 11 a.m. in the East Paddock Gardens will be James Henry, recent winner of the 2013 Horseplayer World Series, where he beat a field of 792 handicappers and earned first place prize of $356,400 . . . The California Horse Racing Board meeting that was scheduled for March 21 has been cancelled. There will not be a Board meeting in March. The Board meeting that was scheduled April 25 has been moved up to April 11 and will be held at Santa Anita . . . Trainer David Bernstein on Saturday’s Big ’Cap: “It’s the (19th) anniversary of my disqualification.”