02/01/2013 3:20PM

Santa Anita: Few willing to face Game On Dude in San Antonio

Shigeki Kikkawa
Overwhelming favorite Game On Dude may have only three rivals in Sunday's San Antonio Stakes.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Clubhouse Ride can run the best race of his career this weekend, yet only finish second. It is the same with Make Music for Me.

So why bother? Because nothing in racing is pre-ordained, even if everyone expects Game On Dude to win the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes on Sunday at Santa Anita.

“Anybody can stub their toe,” Clubhouse Ride’s trainer, Craig Lewis, said. “The likelihood is remote, but anybody can stub their toe. In racing, any scenario is possible.”

Not probable, only possible. And with Chosen Miracle likely to run Saturday on grass instead of Sunday on dirt, the nine-furlong San Antonio may have just four starters – Game On Dude, Clubhouse Ride, Make Music for Me, and front-runner Basmati.

Game On Dude has won 10 races and more than $3.1 million from 22 starts. At Santa Anita, he is nearly unbeatable. He is 5 for 6 at his favorite track, and odds-on to win the $200,000 San Antonio a second straight year. Bob Baffert trains; Mike Smith will ride.

Basmati stretches out from seven furlongs and is quick enough to make the lead, but the pace scenario of the San Antonio was softened with the likely decision to start Chosen Miracle in the Grade 2 Arcadia on Saturday.

“We’re leaning to the Arcadia,” trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said Friday. “We feel [Chosen Miracle] is better on grass. We’ll find out Saturday.”

Clubhouse Ride also entered the Arcadia (he drew post 10), but Lewis said he is leaning toward the San Antonio. Clubhouse Ride has won only 3 of 24. So what? Lewis and owners Nick Petralia and Rick Seidner measure his achievements by earnings.

“He’s been a monumental success, measured in dollars,” Lewis said. “We paid $22,000 for him, and he’s on his way to half a million. Based on that, I think it’s a success story.”

Clubhouse Ride, who has earned $429,620, finished second three weeks ago in a one-mile turf allowance that was his first route since last May. With a route under his belt, Lewis expects the feisty, good-feeling 5-year-old to improve. Aaron Gryder will ride.

Make Music for Me, fourth in the 2010 Kentucky Derby, is one of only two from that race still in training (claiming horse Homeboykris is the other). Alexis Barba trains Make Music for Me, whom she believes is sitting on a big race in the third start of his comeback.

“This time, I am more comfortable because the horse is more fit,” she said. “When this horse gets the right trip, he can do anything. We are going to have to be closer [to the lead], but he can do it.”

Make Music for Me had been off six months when he finished 17 lengths behind Game On Dude in the Grade 3 Native Diver in early December at Hollywood.

“He was not ready, but there was nowhere else to run,” Barba said.

He finished fifth next out in a one-mile turf allowance, beaten only 3 1/4 lengths.

Martin Garcia, who rode the 6-year-old to a front-running turf allowance win in May, is back aboard. Make Music for Me has earned $540,400.