02/20/2013 4:48PM

Santa Anita: Clubhouse Ride targets Santa Anita Handicap

Shigeki Kikkawa
Clubhouse Ride is being pointed to the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap on March 2.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Clubhouse Ride, second in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes on Feb. 3, will not run in Saturday’s $200,000 San Carlos Stakes for sprinters at Santa Anita, trainer Craig Lewis said Wednesday.

Lewis hopes to run Clubhouse Ride in the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on March 2, pending the publication of the weights this weekend.

“I’m leaning toward the Big Cap,” Lewis said. “I discussed with the owner, and we decided we’d rather go there. The money is enticing.”

Clubhouse Ride was beaten 6 1/2 lengths by Game On Dude in the San Antonio Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 3. Trained by Bob Baffert, Game On Dude, who won the 2011 Santa Anita Handicap, will be the highweight in the Big Cap. He will not carry more than 126 pounds. The conditions of the race expressly state that no horse will carry more than that weight.

The last time that Game On Dude ran in a handicap, the Hollywood Gold Cup last July, he carried 124 pounds and won by 1 1/2 lengths.

For Clubhouse Ride, the Big Cap would be his first start in a Grade 1 since a third in the 2010 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park. A winner of 3 of 25 starts and $469,620, Clubhouse Ride won the 2010 Barretts Juvenile Stakes at Fairplex Park. The Big Cap will be his first start at 1 1/4 miles, a distance that does not concern Lewis.

“It’s shaping up as a pretty good heat,” Lewis said. “He doesn’t have a preferred distance. He’s a unique animal. He can run short, long, dirt, grass, synthetic, or on an off track.”

“If he can pick up a piece, that’s real money and it would put him over $500,000. Not bad for a horse that cost $22,000. I’d like to do that every time.”

Clubhouse Ride was purchased for $22,000 at the 2010 Barretts January mixed sale as a 2-year-old.

Ultimate Eagle plans to skip Big Cap

The Big Cap field will not include Ultimate Eagle, who was pulled up and vanned off after grabbing a quarter in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 9.

Monday, Ultimate Eagle worked seven furlongs in 1:25. Wednesday, trainer Mike Pender said that Ultimate Eagle will pass the Big Cap.

“I don’t think so, unless there were some huge defections,” Pender said of Ultimate Eagle’s Big Cap prospects. “He’s doing very well. We’re in a holding pattern for his next race.”

Pender described the improvement of Ultimate Eagle’s grabbed quarter as “major.”

The Big Cap field is expected to include the stakes winners Called to Serve, Guilt Trip, Handsome Mike, John Scott, Richard’s Kid, Ron the Greek, Stephanoatsee and the stakes-placed Tritap. Ron the Greek, who is trained by Bill Mott, is the defending champion and won the Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 19.

Tuesday, Guilt Trip worked a half-mile in 47 seconds at Santa Anita, the fastest of 40 recorded works at the distance. Trained by Baffert, Guilt Trip won the Grade 2 Strub Stakes on Feb. 2. A start in the Big Cap would be his first at 1 1/4 miles.

Cover2 More than 1 year ago
This race sets up for Dick's Kid, I'll box with Handsome Mike, a nice hunch, O'Neill criss cross to dude show tri.......all for super.......heard it here first !
Gene More than 1 year ago
Steve, does anyone really care about a 50/1 that never wins that was not close to Game On Dude last time, skipping the San Carlos to run in the Big Cap?
Adam Wachtel More than 1 year ago
I also was surprised to read that Ultimate Eagle was back breezing so quickly after being vanned off and reading the reports of his grab. Having said that, I hope to see him back in the line-up for the Big Cap come March 2nd and hope his improvement continues to be "major." It would be nice for those of us with horses that come from off the pace in the race to have someone test Game on Dude on the front end. I think Marc would echo my thoughts on this for his nice horse. Should be a great race.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Handsome Mike will be going to the front. Doug O'Neil showed in the Bob Lewis, Strub, and San Antonio that he has no problem sending out a speed horse to make things more difficult for a Baffert. Tritap won't be on the lead again, but I don't see him being far off the pace.
Marc Ferrell More than 1 year ago
I too hope he starts to give some pace to the race. From what I heard there will be a couple horses starting to keep Game on Dude busy on the front end. Ron the Greek is the horse to beat in my opinion especially with his win last year and last month. Maybe you should just stay home this year, I heard its real expensive to ship right now!!!
Marc Ferrell More than 1 year ago
So I guess this whole issue of Ultimate Eagle bleeding "profusely" after being pulled up was a little exaggerated? How do you get pulled up because of an injury, ship across the country and 5 days later work 7/8 ths of a mile in 1:25??? Either he was not injured that bad and they needed an excuse or he was inured that bad and they did the wrong thing by the horse and worked him with an injury. Makes no sense at all.
Gene More than 1 year ago
Mr. Ferrell, From what I have heard from people on the West Coast, Mike Pender isn't very good with the truth, so you're analysis is likely prophetic.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Personally, I don't think Ultimate Eagle wanted anything to do with a 46 and change pace. The one race where he won prompting a so-called fast pace was the 2012 Strub, but he cut out those fractions on a lightning fast surface, against a distance challenged Tapizar, with Jaycito running 2nd, while running a 13 and 2 final eighth. I strongly suggest Ultimate Eagle returning to 9-10 furlong turf races where the pace scenarios are softer. He can still win his connections some good money in those spots.