Though he wasn't happy with the 125-pound weight assignment, trainer Bob Baffert said Game On Dude would contest the upcoming Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) after the favorite worked a fast six furlongs Feb. 24.
Over a fast main track at Santa Anita Park, Game On Dude was clocked in 1:11 flat under Martin Garcia for the marquee race March 2. He worked in company with stablemate Patriot's Voyage, who was also timed in 1:11. They had the fastest of 11 drills at the distance.
Baffert said Game On Dude, who won the Big 'Cap in 2011, should not have to spot weight to last year's winner, Ron the Greek. The defending champ, trained by Bill Mott, received the second-highest impost of 122 pounds. Baffert earlier said that he might consider skipping the Big 'Cap if he was unhappy with the weights, and instead point to the $1.5 million Charles Town Classic (gr. II) April 20.
It appears, though, that Game On Dude is ready to run right now, Baffert said.
"I wasn't really happy with the weights," the Hall of Fame conditioner said. "I thought I'd at least get the same weight as Bill Mott's horse. 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.
"The main thing is, he worked really well," Baffert said of Game On Dude, deciding not to dwell on the weights. Baffert had Game On Dude galloping out seven furlongs in 1:24.
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 earned $3,252,158. But he has never won carrying more than 124 pounds.
Ron the Greek, winner of last year's Big 'Cap, was scheduled to arrive at Ontario Airport early on the afternoon of Feb. 24, then van to Santa Anita. He will have a week to prepare for the race he won last year by 3 1/2 lengths, coming from 10th after a quarter mile in a field of 13.
Trainer Carla Gaines, who said a day earlier that John Scott would pass the Big 'Cap, said Feb. 24 she was "not ruling it out" after the Crystal Water Stakes winner worked six furlongs under Martin Garcia in 1:11 3/5.
Probable for the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap at 1 1/4 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.