02/27/2013 4:09PM

Santa Anita Handicap: Ron the Greek figures to get different setup this year

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Barbara D. Livingston
Ron the Greek wins the Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream by 11 1/4 lengths.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Ron the Greek had an ideal trip when he won the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap last March, stalking a furious pace and roaring home to win the most prestigious race of his career by a convincing 3 1/2 lengths.

That kind of trip may be impossible to duplicate when Ron the Greek starts in Saturday’s Santa Anita Handicap.

“This year will be different,” said Rodolphe Brisset, an assistant trainer for Bill Mott.

Saturday’s race has 10 entries; last year there were 13. Saturday’s race lacks the necessary front-runners to contribute to a hot pace. In 2012, a speed duel developed, leading to quick early fractions of 44.55 seconds for a half-mile and 1:09.08 for six furlongs.

Brisset thinks that Ron the Greek can adapt to any pace scenario. A 6-year-old horse, Ron the Greek chased a moderate pace of 47.27 and 1:10.95 when he won the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs last June ,and fractions of 46.59 and 1:11.03 when he won the Sunshine Millions Classic by 11 1/4 lengths over 1 1/8 miles at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 19.

Game On Dude, who won the 2011 Big Cap, is expected to have the early lead Saturday.

[BIG CAP: Get PPs, watch Saturday's Santa Anita card live]

“The good thing is that in the Sunshine Millions he wasn’t that far off the pace,” Brisset said of Ron the Greek. “If Game On Dude is on the lead in 48, we can be closer, and if he’s on the lead in 46, we’ll be farther back.”

Ron the Greek was fifth of seven in the first half of the Sunshine Millions Classic, racing a little more than four lengths off the pace.

If Ron the Greek or Game On Dude wins Saturday, he will be the fourth horse to win two runnings of the Big Cap, joining John Henry, Milwaukee Brew, and Lava Man.

Jose Lezcano will ride Ron the Greek, who starts from the rail. Game On Dude, who carries top weight of 125 pounds, will be favored and starts from post 9. Ron the Greek carries 122 pounds in the race over 1 1/4 miles.

The other starters include seven stakes winners in the last year – Called to Serve, Deacon Speakin’, Guilt Trip, Handsome Mike, John Scott, Richard’s Kid, and Stephanoatee. Also in the field is Clubhouse Ride, who was second to Game On Dude in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes over 1 1/8 miles Feb. 3.

Deacon Speakin’, a 7-year-old gelding who has won the last two runnings of the Portland Meadows Mile, will make his graded stakes debut in the Big Cap, his 57th start.

Matt Bernier More than 1 year ago
Guilt Trip has had back to back dream trips and Game On Dude is solid at 10 f, but far from unbeatable. Ron The Greek is a logical contender, but there isn't much value to be had. Stephanoatsee is primed to take this thing down at a square price, probably near his morning line - if not higher. Second off the layoff, second start as a four year old, should relish 10 furlongs...Motion will have him ready. Watch out for Stephanoatsee Saturday afternoon at Santa Anita.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Too slow.
Anil More than 1 year ago
Well said... Expect this horse to step up big time..... He gets the pace too.
ENAMMELD More than 1 year ago
If RTG can stay close to whatever pace comes up, I don't see him losing. In his last race he was only 4 off the pace in decent fractions. I'm curious if Mott has helped improve this horse or is it just that he comes into top form this part of the year. Either way he's one of the top grade 1s while GOD isn't.
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
Lets get ready to rrruummble!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Deacon Speakin', will pull off the biggest upset since Herat............. Almost took the field wire to wire in the 80's at I believe 70-1... Deacon, will show Portland meadows, to everyone. He will be flying.... Betting 2K To show 1k to place and 200win.................
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
With 57 starts..I think Deacon Speaking ran in the 80's.
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
Thank you again Herat sincerely,Charlie and greiton
ron More than 1 year ago
sounds like ill fallow you and load up on him.you sound very sure and if i can sell 50% of my bet i go a $2. show on him,
Albert More than 1 year ago
Please take a look at the Equibase numbers.....adjust them for groundloss. Game on Dude is just not in the same category as Ron. That doesn't mean that he can't win in a race with tomato cans like this one, given the expected pace scenario. But he probably won't if Ron brings his race.
Tom Temple More than 1 year ago
It seems like a 2 horse race unfortunately. I would have loved some others in this like Fort Larned to make it really something.
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
This will be more than just a 2 horse race...
Tom Temple More than 1 year ago
Hope you are right but on paper, there is no comparison. Called to Serve is the only other horse that comes close. But, I understand they still have to run the race. Maybe a resurgence of Richard's Kid?
Bruce Baudoux More than 1 year ago
ooooops, make that a stroll in the park for one horse
Lenny Mamola More than 1 year ago
I;,am wondering how good is Guilt Trip...He keeps on improving...He's going to be a really good horse don't know if they re asking too much of him here.... but i like him....It's looks like a three horse race....................
Ed Gredvig More than 1 year ago
WOW, Big Cap Day with 4 maiden races. Well done Santa Anita.
ddwage62 More than 1 year ago
And 3 grade 1s. quit your whining.
thomas j More than 1 year ago
It's the correct wasy to schedule races. This way better races can be scheduled on days when there is not a big feature race.
Ed Gredvig More than 1 year ago
Right. Put those good betting races on Thursday & Friday when on track attendence is under 3k. And I'm not blaming just the track, the whole system is broken and the outlook for racing espically in California. With Hollywood closing SA will get extra dates that will further dilute their product. Let's hope they kill it tomorrow n people not only come out for the fluff but place a bet.
Kristian O'Reilly More than 1 year ago
Ron The Greek is simply a better horse at 10F than Game On Dude. Don't be surprised when he wins the Big Cap again.
Nick Gunritz More than 1 year ago
Concur
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
On any other track I would agree but not in his backyard with his best friend Mike Smith......
Gene More than 1 year ago
Excellent spot Pender picked here... If he isn't 99/1, he is too short a price!