Post position draw breakfast for Santa Anita Handicap set for Feb. 29
The 75th running of the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap will take place on Saturday March 3, and the Big ’Cap Draw Breakfast will be held by invitation only, beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Wed., Feb. 29, in the track’s Baldwin Terrace, above the Top 0’ the Stretch area.
It is expected that the Bob Baffert-conditioned Game on Dude, who is owned in- part by Joe Torre’s Diamond Pride Stable, will a attempt to join John Henry (1981-’82), Milwaukee Brew (2002-’03), and Lava Man (2006-’07), as the fourth two-time winner of “The Grandaddy of Them All.”
Game on Dude will again be ridden by Chantal Sutherland, who became the first-ever female jockey to win the Big ’Cap last year. Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella has committed his Setsuko to another Big ’Cap engagement and he’ll once again be ridden by Victor Espinoza. Setsuko was second beaten a nose by Game on Dude in last year’s edition and in Mandella’s opinion could have been declared the winner following a lengthy stewards inquiry.
Eighteen horses have been nominated to the Big ’Cap, with weights to be announced Feb. 25.
One of the sharpest older horses in America, B.J. Wright’s Ultimate Eagle, is fresh off a smashing win in the Grade II Strub Stakes on Feb. 4 and his trainer, Mike Pender, has said the Kentucky-bred colt by Mizzen Mast will run in the Big Cap’ and be ridden again by Martin Pedroza.
Trainer Julio Canani has indicated that his 7-year-old California-bred gelding Holladay Road, an impressive 2 ½ length winner of the 1 1/16 mile Crystal Water Stakes on Jan. 28, will start in the Big ’Cap “if the weights are right.”
Santa Anita Racing Secretary Rick Hammerle is expecting a field of “between eight and 10 horses” for the mile and a quarter classic.