Arcadia, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Game On Dude will be coming into this year's Santa Anita Handicap with the unfamiliar presence of a three-race losing streak on his past performances.
The 7-year-old will be coming off a loss as the 3-10 favorite in the San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita after dueling on the lead with Blueskiesnrainbows. That loss prompted some less than flattering comments about the ride Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith gave the gelding.
"In this case (the San Antonio), he went a little quick early and it was his first race back, so he's certainly got room to improve," Smith noted.
The 1 1/8-mile San Antonio was Game On Dude's first race of the year following consecutive defeats in the 2013 Breeders' Cup Classic and Clark Handicap.
"I know that when he runs his 'A-plus' race, I'll match him with anybody. As for the Big 'Cap, we'll just have to wait and see who goes in, where we draw, how we break, and then I'll be able to tell you something," said Smith.
Expected to take on the defending Big 'Cap winner are Breeders' Cup Classic champ Mucho Macho Man and Clark winner Will Take Charge.
"On the whole, he's usually pretty good out of the gate. In the San Antonio, he was just a step slow leaving there, but I look for him to come back and bounce out of there good and see where it puts him," commented Smith.
Smith was Game On Dude's primary jockey last year. Martin Garcia was aboard when the gelding won the Pacific Classic by 8 1/2 lengths in August. Smith took over the mount in December 2012 from Rafael Bejarano when Game On Dude won the Native Diver. Bejarano replaced Chantal Sutherland after Game On Dude finished second in the Pacific Classic in 2012. Game On Dude also won the Big 'Cap in 2011.
Not expected to make the Big 'Cap on March 8 is Blueskiesnrainbows. Winner of the San Pasqual Stakes, the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained runner is unlikely for the 1 1/4-mile race. The Hall of Fame trainer will be represented by Fury Kapcori, Hear the Ghost and Rousing Sermon.