Defending winner Ron the Greek will face nine challengers, including 2011 winner Game On Dude, in Saturday's 76th running of the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap (Big 'Cap) at Santa Anita Park. This marks the first time two prior winners of the race will meet in the 1 1/4-mile stakes.
Although the returning winner of the Big 'Cap, Ron the Greek is the 5-2 second pick to 6-5 morning line favorite Game On Dude, Game On Dude is also the 125 pound highweight for the race with Ron the Greek carrying 122 pounds. Game On Dude has never won carrying more than 124 pounds.
"I wasn't really happy with the weights," Bob Baffert said concerning Game On Dude carrying 125 pounds. "I thought I'd at least get the same weight as Bill Mott's horse (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."
Owned by Nils Brous, Jack Hammer and Adam Wachtel, Ron the Greek has drawn the inside post with jockey Jose Lezcano.
Last year, Ron the Greek won the Big 'Cap by 3 1/2-lengths versus 12 rivals after racing 10th in the early going. His only other win in 2012 was in the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 16.
Ron the Greek and Game On Dude were in last November's Breeders' Cup Classic where Mott's horse finished fourth at 8-1 and 13-10 favorite Game On Dude was a disappointing seventh.
In 23 career starts, Ron the Greek has eight wins, including this year's Sunshine Millions Classic, for more than $1.8 million.
Game On Dude, partly owned by Joe Torre. will be ridden by Mike Smith from post 9. To his outside will be another Baffert trained horse Guilt Trip.
Following the Breeders' Cup Classic, Game On Dude won the Native Diver Stakes at Hollywood Park and began 2013 with a second straight win in the San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita.
The 6-year-old gelding has earned $3,252,158 with 11 wins in 23 starts.
From the rail out here is the field for the Big 'Cap: Ron the Greek, Jose Lezcano; Handsome Mike, Mario Gutierrez; Deacon Speakin', Alberto Delgado; Called to Serve, Gary Stevens; Clubhouse Ride, Rafael Bejarano; Richard's Kid, Tyler Baze; John Scott, Martin Garcia; Stephanoatsee, Julien Leparoux; Game On Dude, Mike Smith and Guilt Trip, Joe Talamo.
Approximate post-time for the Big 'Cap will be 7:30 p.m. (ET).