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Mar 02, 2012

13 for Santa Anita Handicap, no Game On Dude


Arcadia, CA (Sports Network) - The 75th running of the Santa Anita Handicap (Big 'Cap) on Saturday will have a field of 13 older thoroughbreds with the notable absence of last year's winner Game On Dude. The five-year-old gelding is skipping the $750,000 1 1/4-mile race for the $10 million Dubai World Cup four weeks later.

Moving up to be the 5-2 morning-line favorite is Strub Stakes winner Ultimate Eagle. The four-year-old colt, trained by Michael Pender, will start from post two with Martin Pedroza in the saddle.

"You basically can do whatever you want to do with him," said Pedroza who won the 1989 Big 'Cap with Martial Law. "But he runs his best races when he's up close, on the pace or close to the pace."

Owned by B.J. Wright, Ultimate Eagle has earned $467,800 with five wins in nine career starts. After breaking his maiden last July, the colt proceeded to win the Oak Tree and Hollywood Derbies with a third in the Sir Beaufort.

Last year's Big 'Cap runner-up Setsuko is entered and will break from post nine with regular jockey Victor Espinoza.

"I think he's better now than he was last year, judging from how he's come back since his layoff and from being gelded," said Espinoza. "The win on Feb. 4 was an easy one for him, but what I liked even more was the fact that he moved between horses from the inside after breaking from the rail."

Trained by Richard Mandella, the five-year-old won an allowance race to start the year, snapping a losing streak that extended back two years. With just two wins in 17 career starts, Setsuko has earned $506,486, including six second- place results.

"I always liked the horse from Day One," Espinoza said. "We always thought he was a really, really nice horse, but he was always running against tough horses. Even so, he always tried and always ran good. Now that he's older and more mature I think he'll win more."

Here is the field for the Big 'Cap from the rail out: Uh Oh Bango, Mike Smith; Ultimate Eagle, Martin Pedroza; Ron the Greek, Jose Lezcano; Boxeur des Rues, Mario Gutierrez; Thirtyfirststreet, Eswan Flores; Twice the Appeal, Christian Santiago Reyes; Fiddlers Afleet, Kevin Krigger; Gladding, Joel Rosario; Setsuko, Victor Espinoza; Norvsky, Joe Talamo; Prayer for Relief, Martin Garcia; Holladay Road, Rafael Bejarano and Victory Pete, Corey Nakatani.

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