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Dude could skip Big 'Cap if Baffert doesn't like weight

Bob Baffert said Saturday morning a final decision on whether Game On Dude runs in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap on March 2 would not be made until the gelding works Sunday and Baffert sees weight assignments for the Big 'Cap, a race Game On Dude won in 2011.

"We'll see how he works and what the weights are," Baffert said. "Everything has to be really good. Otherwise, we'll look at the Charles Town Classic (Grade 2 worth $1.5 million at 1 1/8 miles on April 20).

"It's worth $1 million to the winner, and that's like two Big 'Caps ($450,000 to the winner), and I know he likes that track."

Game On Dude was second under 123 pounds to Duke of Mischief on a sloppy track in the Charles Town Classic on April 16, 2011.

When weights were released later Saturday for the Big 'Cap, Game On Dude was assigned the top impost of 125 pounds, three more than defending champion Ron the Greek with 122.

Other probables for the 1 1/4-mile Santa Anita Handicap, with their weight assignments, are Called to Serve (118), Richard's Kid (118), Guilt Trip (117), Handsome Mike (117), Stephanoatsee (116), Clubhouse Ride (115) and Tritap (115).

Crystal Water winner John Scott will pass on the Big 'Cap, according to trainer Carla Gaines, who will look for a spot yet to be determined.

In other Big 'Cap news, Craig Lewis doesn't put Clubhouse Ride in the same class as former stars he trained like Larry the Legend and Cutlass Reality, but if the five-year-old Candy Ride horse wins the rich and prestigious Santa Anita Handicap, the trainer might have to reevaluate his thinking.

Larry the Legend was a rags-to-riches stakes winner who scored his signature victory in the 1995 Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. Cutlass Reality won four graded stakes at Hollywood Park in 1988, highlighted by the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup.

Clubhouse Ride has a way to go to reach that status for the 65-year-old Lewis, a native Los Angelino who resides in Arcadia and is a major fan of the San Francisco 49ers.

Clubhouse Ride finished 6 1/2 lengths behind Game On Dude in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on February 3. Only four horses started in that otherwise paceless race, giving Game On Dude yet another advantage, as if he needed it, being the favorite at five cents on the dollar.

"We're hoping to get a more favorable scenario for Clubhouse Ride in the Big 'Cap than we did when Game On Dude beat us in the San Antonio," Lewis said, "but it might help a couple other good horses, too, like Ron the Greek."

Ron the Greek won the Big 'Cap last year from well off the pace, and if he runs against Game On Dude, it would mark the first time in the race's 76-year history that two Santa Anita Handicap winners ran in the same Big 'Cap.

Clubhouse Ride, owned by the Six-S Racing Stable headed by Murrey Seidner of Glendora and Nikolas Petralia, already has earned more than 20 times his purchase price of $22,000 at the 2010 Barretts January mixed sale, with $469,620 in the coffers, this despite winning only three of 25 starts.

"He's a nice horse, a cool horse," Lewis said. "He does everything well. He's a fun horse to be around. He's got a very good way about him; good temperament, good behavior, a nice horse in every way, and he makes money."

Aaron Gryder, who has ridden Clubhouse Ride in his last seven starts, winning once, retains the mount in the Big 'Cap.

"He rode him great in the San Antonio," Lewis said. "Game On Dude was just too good and things went his way.

"With a bigger field, better horses and a longer distance in the Santa Anita Handicap, it's either going to hurt us or help us. That's what we're going to find out. Clubhouse Ride isn't in a league with Larry the Legend or Cutlass Reality yet, but we almost got the money in the 20`1 Santa Anita Handicap with Quindici Man (who finished third to Game On Dude, beaten a half-length at 69-1)."

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