ARCADIA, Calif. — Game On Dude was made the early 8-5 favorite in an impressive field of 12 for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, a race he has failed to win in two previous tries for trainer Bob Baffert. For the second straight year, the gelding will be running on his home track, where he is 8-1.
Game On Dude’s only loss at Santa Anita came in last year’s 1¼-mile Classic, where he finished seventh behind winner Fort Larned.
‘‘I’m just hoping he runs like an 8-5 shot,’’ Baffert said Monday.
Baffert is winless in the Classic, but he has trained Game On Dude to a 5-0 record this year heading into Saturday’s race. Joe Torre, the former Dodgers and Yankees manager, co-owns the gelding, which will be ridden by Mike Smith.
Fort Larned, who won last year’s Classic by three-quarters of a length over Mucho Macho Man, is back to defend his title. Mucho Macho Man returns, too, with Gary Stevens in the saddle. Game On Dude drew the No. 9 post.
‘‘I didn’t want him to be buried on the inside,’’ Baffert said. ‘‘The field is strong. It’s so competitive. All these horses are back from last year.’’
Fort Larned drew the No. 7 post and was listed at 6-1 odds. Mucho Macho Man will break from the No. 6 post at 5-1 odds.
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas has Will Take Charge in the Classic. The Travers winner drew the No. 10 post and was listed at 12-1 odds. Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice is 10-1 and drew the No. 8 post.
Reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan drew post position eight in a field of 10 and was made the even-money favorite for the $2 million Mile, where the 6-year-old gelding will try to improve to 6-0 on the turf this year.
Wise Dan will face nine rivals in the 30th Breeders’ Cup.
Cleburne and Havana — both 2-0 — will put their undefeated records on the line in the $2 million Juvenile, which drew a full field of 14. Velazquez will ride Havana, the 5-2 morning-line favorite; Cleburne was listed at 12-1.
Trainer Todd Pletcher won’t have Graydar, who had been pre-entered in both the Classic and the Dirt Mile. The Kelso winner has a quarter crack in his left front hoof.
The two-day, $27 million championships open Friday with five races.
Rosie Napravnik and Chantal Sutherland-Kruse each have one mount on Saturday, and will try to join Julie Krone as the only women to win a Breeders’ Cup race in the event’s history. Napravnik rides 5-1 shot Untapable in the $2 million Juvenile Fillies; Sutherland-Kruse is aboard 20-1 longshot Great Hot in the $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint.