02/24/2013 7:55PM

Santa Anita Handicap favorite Game On Dude works snappy six furlongs

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Game On Dude has been assigned 125 pounds for Saturday's Santa Anita Handicap.

ARCADIA, Calif.- Game On Dude seems to be at the top of every category at Santa Anita this year.

Game On Dude will carry top weight of 125 pounds for Saturday’s $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap, and will be a heavy favorite in the richest race of the meeting for older horses.

A 6-year-old, Game On Dude won the meeting’s top Big Cap prep race for older horses, the $200,000 San Antonio Stakes, by 6 1/2 lengths on Feb. 3. Sunday, he worked six furlongs in 1:11, a time that equaled the fastest of 14 workouts at the distance. Game On Dude worked with stablemate Patriot’s Voyage, who worked in 1:11.

Trained by Bob Baffert, Game On Dude will attempt to become the fourth horse to win two runnings of the Big Cap. Game On Dude won the 2011 running as a 4-year-old, but did not start in 2012. He was sent to Dubai instead, and finished 12th in the $10 million Dubai World Cup.

John Henry (1981-1982), Milwaukee Brew (2002-2003) and Lava Man (2006-2007) are the only two-time winners in the 76-year history of the race.

In Sunday’s workout, Game On Dude started two lengths behind Patriot’s Voyage. Ridden in the workout by jockey Martin Garcia, Game On Dude moved closer on the turn and finished in front. Game On Dude and Patriot’s Voyage worked from the five-furlong pole to the seven-furlong pole, at the start of the clubhouse turn.

Through the last furlong, Baffert told Garcia via radio to urge Game On Dude.

“Pick it up, Martin,’” Baffert said. “Let him run, Martin.”

Baffert timed Game On Dude galloping out seven furlongs in 1:24.

“Beautiful,” he said. “When he works well, he runs well.”

Garcia worked Game On Dude, but the mount belongs to Hall of Famer Mike Smith.

In the Big Cap over 1 1/4 miles, Game On Dude will be the first horse to carry at least 125 pounds since Gentlemen finished last of four under that weight in 1998. Lava Man won the 2007 running under 124 pounds.

Weights were released on Saturday, and a field of eight or nine is expected.

Game On Dude will carry three pounds more than defending champion Ron the Greek. Other weight assignments for probable starters are Called to Serve and Richard’s Kid, at 118 pounds; Guilt Trip and Handsome Mike, at 117; and John Scott, Stephanoatsee, and Clubhouse Ride, at 115.

Ron the Greek won the Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 19. He breezed a half-mile in 49.20 seconds at Payson Park training center in Florida on Saturday.

John Scott is not a definite starter, trainer Carla Gaines said on Sunday. A 6-year-old gelding, John Scott worked six furlongs in 1:11.60 on Sunday morning.

Game On Dude has not started in a handicap since a win in the Hollywood Gold Cup at Betfair Hollywood Park last July. Game On Dude carried 124 pounds in that race over 1 1/4 miles and won by 1 1/2 lengths. In five subsequent starts, Game On Dude has run in weight-for-age race or races run under allowance conditions.

A gelding, Game On Dude carried 123 pounds to win the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes, which was run under allowance conditions.

The most that Game On Dude could have been assigned for the Big Cap is126 pounds. The nomination form states that no horse will carry more than 126 pounds, a clause first introduced in the race conditions in 1999.

Owned by a partnership of the Lanni Family Trust, Bernie Schiappa, Mercedes Stable, and Joe Torre, Game On Dude has won 11 of 23 starts and $3,252,158.