Updated on 09/16/2011 6:54AM

Big Cap field lacks star power

Michael J. Marten/Horsephotos
Big Cap contender Fancy As (left), Dana Barnes up, works Monday with stablemate Pie N Burger (Pepe Aragon).

ARCADIA, Calif. - The lineup for Saturday's $1 million Santa Anita Handicap changed dramatically over the weekend when Mizzen Mast, the winner of the Malibu and Strub stakes, was withdrawn because of injury.

The absence of Mizzen Mast may make the Big Cap a more intriguing betting race, but there is a lack of depth among the remaining 11 probable starters. When weight assignments were announced on Sunday, Mizzen Mast and Lido Palace, who is out until summer, were given top weight of 120 pounds. Their absence leaves Euchre and Futural as the starting highweights at 118 pounds.

That means the Big Cap will have its lowest starting highweight in 43 years, dating to Terrang's win in 1959 at 116 pounds. The other probables (with weights) are Freedom Crest (116), Irishesyesareflying (116), Cagney (115), Kudos (115), Fancy As (114), Giant Gentleman (114), Last Parade (113), Milwaukee Brew (113), and Seinne (112). Western Pride (116), the winner of the San Fernando Stakes on Jan. 12, has not been ruled out.

Mizzen Mast would have been a strong favorite. Trained by Bobby Frankel, he won the Strub Stakes by four lengths on Feb. 2. Mizzen Mast developed a quarter crack last Friday and by Sunday Frankel had abandoned hopes of starting him in the Big Cap. He said Mizzen Mast, a 4-year-old, will be given a rest.

"I'm going to let his feet grow out," Frankel said Monday at Hollywood Park. "I'll get him ready for the summer. This might be a blessing in disguise. I hate getting horses going early and having them go all year long. I want to get a couple of races in him before the Breeders' Cup."

Frankel said Mizzen Mast has another minor problem, one that does not require surgery, but he would not disclose its nature.

Frankel will be represented by Euchre and Milwaukee Brew in the Big Cap. Kent Desormeaux, who would have ridden Mizzen Mast, will have the mount on Milwaukee Brew, Frankel said.

The defection of Mizzen Mast was acknowledged by other trainers as helping their quest to win the race. Richard Mandella, who trains Big Cap runners Cagney and Kudos, said, "Their stock just went up. Mizzen Mast is a monster." Both Cagney and Kudos are scheduled to work on Wednesday.

Giant Gentleman has probably inherited the favorite's role. A 4-year-old, he was bought privately last week by Gary Tanaka of London from Nancy Clark, Mark Moskowitz, and Robert Domush.

Giant Gentleman caught Tanaka's eye after a runner-up finish to Mizzen Mast in the Strub over 1 1/8 miles. Initially, Tanaka said he thought Giant Gentleman was better over shorter distances. But "in the Strub, he stayed," Tanaka said.

Trained by Brent Sumja, Giant Gentleman has been based with trainer Jenine Sahadi for the last two months. In the Big Cap, run over 1 1/4 miles, Giant Gentleman will be attempting to end a four-race losing streak dating to the Princeton Stakes at The Meadowlands last September.

The race distance should not be a problem for Futural, a two-time stakes winner last year who finished first in the Hollywood Gold Cup but was disqualified for interference in the stretch.

On Sunday at Hollywood Park, Futural worked six furlongs in 1:11.80 under jockey Chris McCarron.

Futural finished third in an allowance race over a mile on Feb. 9, the 6-year-old's first start since he finished sixth in the Pacific Classic last August at Del Mar.

"He was about 75 percent that day," trainer Craig Dollase said. "I told Chris in the paddock that he'll be a little short but I wanted to get that race into him."

Fancy As, another whose Big Cap chances increased because of the defection of Mizzen Mast, worked a strong five furlongs Monday at Santa Anita in 58.80 seconds under exercise rider Dana Barnes. His time was the second best of 59 at the distance.

Fancy As was third to Mizzen Mast in the Strub Stakes earlier this month. He ran evenly in that race, so trainer Bob Baffert, in an attempt to sharpen Fancy As, added blinkers for Monday's work and will use them in the Big Cap.

"He was real aggressive with the blinkers on," Baffert said after Fancy As worked. "I don't want him to get so far out of it early. He's doing awesome. I think a mile and a quarter will help him. I know it's not going to rain, but I wish it would, because he loves an off track."

- additional reporting by Jay Privman