02/26/2012 7:19PM

Santa Anita: Baffert still debating between Big Cap and World Cup for Game On Dude

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Game On Dude will be favored in the Santa Anita Handicap if trainer Bob Baffert elects to keep him in California.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Decision time has arrived for trainer Bob Baffert.

He has until Wednesday to choose whether to enter Game On Dude in Saturday’s $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap or wait for the $10 million Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse in the Middle East on March 31.

“I’ve got to make up my mind,” he said on Sunday afternoon. “It’s killing me. “My gut tells me to go to Dubai. He’s doing great.”

There are pros and cons for both races. Game On Dude is the defending champion in the Big Cap and has been assigned top weight of 123 pounds. If Game On Dude starts, he will spot his expected 11 rivals from 3 to 13 pounds in the 1 1/4-mile race.

Game On Dude has excelled at Santa Anita since joining Baffert’s stable in the spring of 2010, winning all four of his starts on Santa Anita’s main track.

Second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs last November, Game On Dude won his 2012 debut in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes here on Feb. 5.

Dubai presents a different set of circumstances. Owned by a partnership, Game On Dude would be after a first-place purse of $6 million, but would be racing over a Tapeta synthetic track. Game On Dude is winless in two career starts on synthetic tracks, a second-place finish by a nose in the Hollywood Gold Cup on Cushion Track last July and a disappointing fourth in the Pacific Classic on Polytrack at Del Mar last August.

Game On Dude will be favored if he starts in the Big Cap. The competition is led by Ultimate Eagle, winner of the Grade 2 Strub Stakes on Feb. 4, who is next on the list of weights, at 120 pounds.

Other assignments include Prayer for Relief and Uh Oh Bango, at 117; Gladding, Ron the Greek and Setsuko, at 116; Holladay Road, Thirtyfirststreet and Twice the Appeal, at 114; Boxeur dues Rues, at 112; and Fiddlers Afleet, at 110 pounds.