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Hollywood Park Title Special to Sadler

John Sadler has won titles before, but the mantle of leading trainer at this Spring/Summer Betfair Hollywood Park meeting is special.

“We’ve raced here more than 25 years,” said Sadler, who turns 57 July 30. “This is the last Summer here and it’s great to be part of history. “It’s fun to go out on top.”

Sadler clinched the title July 12. Entering Sunday’s closing day card, he has 27 victories, six more than Mike Puype and seven more than Hall of Famer Bob Baffert. His runners have finished in the top three in 81 of 144 races (56 per cent).

“We’ve had a good meeting, but we’ve also been a little unlucky,’’ said Sadler. “We had a ton of seconds (31),” said Sadler.

It didn’t take the trainer long to come up with his favorite all-time Hollywood Park memory – Melair.

A roan daughter of Debonair Roger owned by breeders Marianne Millard and Bea Rous, Melair burst on the scene like a meteor, winning the only five starts of her career during the 1986 Spring/Summer meet. She left a lasting legacy in the Silver Screen Stakes, which turned out to be her final start. Melair suffered a severe case of colic after that win, necessitating her retirement.

“She was just freakish that day (July 5),” recalled Sadler. “She won the race (by 6 ½ lengths) in 1:32 4/5 and that was the fastest mile ever run by a 3-year-old filly. She beat (Preakness winner) Snow Chief (who finished third) by 11 lengths.”

In fact, less than a handful of horses of any age had run faster than Melair that day. The exclusive list included immortals Dr. Fager and Buckpasser.

Snow Chief’s trainer Mel Stute famously said at the time, “I could have put a jet in the rear of my horse and he wouldn’t have beaten that filly.”

“This track has been good to us through the years,” said Sadler. “In a way, winning the title is a way to say thank you to Hollywood Park.”




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