Bob Baffert's big money horse, Game On Dude, carries the high expectations of both his trainer and the betting public Saturday in the 77th running of the Santa Anita Handicap.
One of the two top races in Santa Anita's annual winter season — the other is the Santa Anita Derby on April 6 — the Big 'Cap is a Grade I stakes that carries a purse of $750,000, with 60% to the winner. Game On Dude, a 6-year-old gelding, has already won $3,252,158 and is the 6-5 morning-line favorite.
Game On Dude, owned in part by the Lanni Family Trust and baseball legend Joe Torre, has won three of his last four races and disappointed badly only in last year's Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita. That race was won by Fort Larned, while Game On Dude straggled home seventh under Rafael Bejarano. Baffert switched to Mike Smith in the saddle for the next two races, including the Grade II San Antonio Stakes a month ago at Santa Anita, and Game On Dude won both times.
Second choice on the morning line is last year's Big 'Cap winner, trainer Bill Mott's Ron The Greek. He is also a 6-year-old and has won $1,806,597, with eight wins in 23 starts. He will be ridden by his regular jockey, Jose Lezcano.