02/23/2012 5:23PM

Santa Anita: Game On Dude completes Big Cap work

Benoit & Associates
Game On Dude is the likely favorite for the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap on March 3.

Game On Dude, who will be favored in the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 3, worked six furlongs in 1:10.80 on Thursday, his final major exercise before the meeting’s top race for older horses.

Trainer Bob Baffert timed Game On Dude galloping out seven furlongs in 1:23.20.

Game On Dude, the defending champion in the Big Cap, was expected to work in company with Gatheratthealter, but the stablemate scooted clear by about seven or eight lengths on the first turn. Ridden in the workout by jockey Martin Garcia, Game On Dude stayed behind Gatheratthealter throughout the workout, reducing the margin between the two to about three lengths at the finish.

“It worked out perfect,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “He’s as ready as I can get him.”

Game On Dude leads an expected field of 11 for the Big Cap, which is run over 1 1/4 miles. Baffert said Thursday that he is likely to start Prayer for Relief, a three-time graded stakes winner last year who was third in the Strub Stakes on Feb. 4.

Other candidates for the Big Cap are Boxeur des Rues, Fiddlers Afleet, Gladding, Holladay Road, Ron the Greek, Setsuko, Twice the Appeal, Uh Oh Bango, and Ultimate Eagle.

Ultimate Eagle, trained by Mike Pender, won the Strub Stakes, his third stakes win in his last four starts.