Game On Dude, trained by Bob Baffert, has been made the early favorite for Saturday's 76th Santa Anita Handicap (Big 'Cap). The 6-year-old gelding is expected to take on eight challengers in the 1 1/4- mile race.
The Big 'Cap field will feature for the time two former winners of the race in Game On Dude, 2011 champ, and defending winner Ron the Greek. The field will be drawn on Wednesday.
"Before we know who is actually entered, any morning-line prices for the Big 'Cap are subject to change," Jon White, Santa Anita's oddsmaker said for the track's simulcast network. "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."
As a comparison, White set the morning line for last year's Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita and had Game On Dude as the 9-5 favorite and Ron the Greek 6-1 in the program.
"Game On Dude was sent away as a 6-5 favorite in that race, while Ron the Greek's closing price was 8-1," White noted. "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."
In the weight assignments, Game On Dude received 125 pounds and Ron the Greek 122.