The 2013 Santa Anita Handicap features first-ever match up of past Big ‘Cap winners.
It’s hard to believe that GAME ON DUDE and RON THE GREEK are the first two prior winners of the G.I Santa Anita Handicap to race against each other in the history of the race. The race, once known as the “Hundred-Grander” because of the gaudy purse for Great Depression era America, is regaining national prominence as the definitive winter G.I race for 4y.o.’s and up on the main track as the country claws out of a severe economic recession in 2013.
Triple Crown winner AFFIRMED, “the best horse to look through a bridle” SPECTACULAR BID, and venerable gelding JOHN HENRY are nationally known winners of the Big ‘Cap. However, 1940 victor SEABISCUIT is probably the best known of them all. The Charles Howard-owned gelding, trained by Tom Smith, is romantically remembered as a beacon of hope in what was a downtrodden society. SEABISCUIT overcame an oppressive early career to win a match race against WAR ADMIRAL, finish second twice in the Big ‘Cap during the Great Depression, and won the “Hundred-Grander” at age seven after a year off and recovering from what was believed to be a career-ending injury.
Fast forward to 2013 and a pair of 6y.o.’s, a rare occurrence in G.I racing over the last few decades, are trying to win the race for the second time. Ironically, both are blue collar horses like SEABISCUIT was. People identify with them because they race year in and year out and have reached prominence from relative obscurity. GAME ON DUDE was purchased privately at three for the Derby trail and beyond, but wasn’t up to the task. He’s been gelded some time ago, has now won multiple G.I races earning over $3.2 million and will race as long as he’s sound. His story sounds sort of like a human going to work, climbing the ladder for many years, with an eye to retirement. RON THE GREEK is from the stallion FULL MANDATE, not a household name in the top echelon of thoroughbred competition, but RON is working himself up from the “bottom” of the equine hierarchy as well. Like ‘DUDE, ‘RON was on running down the Derby trail once-upon-a-time. He’s a better older horse than he was at three, aging gracefully like fine wine.
While GAME ON DUDE and RON THE GREEK face eight other probable starters, they will rightfully dominate the wagering on past class. They have earned their positions and the respect from their fans will show up at the windows. Here’s the run down.
**THE ARTICLE CAN BE READ IN IT'S ENTIRETY AT THOROFAN'S HANDICAPPER'S CORNER**
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