captured more than leading trainer honors at the recent Del Mar meet. The 57-year-old Long Beach native not only exceeded his expectations at the seaside venue by winning 27 races to fend off onrushing Doug O’Neill, who was second with 24 wins, he led in stakes victories with six, purse money earned with $2,487,554, and also trained for brothers Kosta and Pete Hronis, the leading owners in wins (six, which tied them with two other owners) and purse earnings with $625,550.
That’s good news but old news. Now Sadler is at his home base of Santa Anita Park focused on the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which the Great Race Place hosts for the second of three consecutive years on Nov. 1 and 2 and for the seventh time in the 30 years the Breeders’ Cup has generated interest worldwide.
“There wasn’t a category we didn’t lead in at Del Mar, and that included (most) starts (157),” Sadler said as his he prepares his diverse stable for Santa Anita’s stakes-laden 24-day meet that starts next Friday, Sept. 27.
“We had a great meet,” Sadler said. “It was a fun summer, and the thing I really liked was all the horses ran really well as a group. Not only were we winning, we had a lot of seconds and thirds, and that helped increase the earnings.
“My favorite race was probably the Pacific Classic, a race that we didn’t win (Game On Dude rolled to an 8 ½-length triumph), but we ran second and third, and there was no pace in there.”
Del Mar’s main track is a synthetic surface--Polytrack--while Santa Anita’s is traditional dirt. Sadler envisions a successful transition.
“We’re going to be well-represented in Breeders’ Cup prep races right from the start of the meet,” Sadler said, alluding to six Grade I events over the first two weekends. “We have to make choices on which races some horses will go in.
“For sure we’re going with More Chocolate
in the Zenyatta, Lady of Shamrock
in the Rodeo Drive, Gonna Fly Now
in the (Santa Anita) Sprint (Championship), and Vagabond Shoes
in the mile and a quarter John Henry (Turf Championship). Those are all definite. Kettle Corn
might also go in the John Henry.”
Vagabond Shoes worked seven furlongs on Santa Anita’s firm turf course Friday in 1:27.60.
As to whether the late-running Kettle Corn is also under consideration for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at 1 ¼ miles on dirt Nov. 2, Sadler said, “Last year he was fourth here to Obviously (in the Mile), but he’s been running further distances this year, so he’ll probably go in the mile and a quarter.”
Asked if he was comfortable with Santa Anita hosting the Breeders’ Cup again, Sadler’s answer was like the anticipated track conditions on opening day: fast and firm.
“It should be here all the time,” he said.